The Fairbanks campus is home to billions of dollars in state infrastructure. It all rests on the foundation of an aging heat and power plant. Failure to invest now invites a catastrophic failure in the future. The consequences, should all or parts of the plant fail, would be financially devastating to the university and state.
If the main boilers fail, UAF would be forced to switch to oil-fired heat and electricity, increasing annual fuel costs from approximately $9.8 million per year to in excess of $33 million per year. That would swiftly exhaust both the UAF and UA reserves and necessitate additional state funding.
If the plant were to fail during the winter, there is danger of freeze-up and significant damage to nearly every facility on the Fairbanks campus. Purchasing electricity from GVEA does not provide heat to rapidly cooling buildings. The grid cannot provide enough power to heat campus with electricity, and even if it could, it would be cost-prohibitive. If the campus were to freeze, it could cost up hundreds of millions of dollars to repair the damage.
Programs at risk
Without a major upgrade to the plant, the educational, service, research and workforce development opportunities that support the state’s economic health are at risk. A plant failure would affect enrollment and research funding for years to come.