After extensive study, a major upgrade, including new main boilers, made the most sense, in terms of long-term operating costs and viability and reduced pollution. Embarking on this project now is the fiscally responsible decision. Our aging boilers need millions of dollars in repairs in the coming years, and even those don’t guarantee reliable operation.
Flexible solid fuel
The anchors to our energy solution are two circulating fluidized bed boilers, which would burn coal and up to 15 percent biomass to generate up to 17 megawatts of power and enough steam to heat the campus. The CFB is an efficient and flexible technology and can burn almost any solid fuel.
Diversified energy portfolio
In addition to the upgrade and new boilers, we would retain our two existing backup diesel and gas boilers and continue with campus energy conservation measures and exploration of renewable options. This plan will allow the university to meet its energy needs for the next 50 years and nearly eliminate the need to purchase higher-cost electricity from Golden Valley Electric Association.
The total project cost for the upgraded plant is $245 million. Because fuel costs are lower with the new boilers and plant upgrade, UAF could afford to finance up to $50 million of the project and make that payment with the money saved in fuel costs. The remaining $195 million is included as part of the Board of Regents' request to the Legislature this year. The goal is to obtain funding in the FY15 budget, with an eye on project construction beginning in the spring 2015 and for the upgraded plant to be in operation by the end of 2018.