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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities

T.B. Simon Power Plant - plant modernization

Project phase: Planning/Design

Project background

  • MSU's T.B. Simon Power Plant has provided cogenerated steam and electricity to the East Lansing campus for more than five decades. This cogeneration facility continues to provide competitive financial advantages to MSU relative to Big Ten peers and other Michigan universities, and has a proven record of unsurpassed reliability for providing electrical power and steam to campus.
  • The original generation equipment is almost 60 years old, conventionally considered the end of its useful life. Maintenance costs for outdated boilers and turbines are on the rise.
  • The campus demand for electricity will continue to rise much faster than for steam, thus moving the Power Plant's generation equipment further and further away from the balance that is optimal for efficiency.
  • Changing technology allows MSU to consider a different approach for the next generation of power production. There are technical advances in electrical and steam generation equipment, improvements in the nation's natural gas infrastructure, and lower prices for energy storage solutions.
  • A carefully balanced set of strategic investments will enable MSU to modernize its central power plant, save energy and significantly lower costs. 

Project scope

  • The transition to the next generation of power generation is expected to involve three separate upgrades.
  • As planning begins, project teams will examine options to deliver each component as efficiently as possible, including coordination with other infrastructure needs.
  • Each will return for Board action at the Authorization to Proceed and, if appropriate, Bid and Contract Award stages
  • The three project components are:
    • R.I.C.E.
      • Install a high-efficiency electrical generation facility consisting of four Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines (RICE) with a combined power of at least 35 Megawatts, which will increase efficiency significantly.
      • CP17197; estimate of $38,000,000 - $40,000,000
    • Medium pressure steam boiler
      • Install a medium-pressure steam boiler, which can provide up to 200,000 pounds of steam to campus and would allow retiring two 50-year old boilers and steam turbines.
      • CP17198; estimate of $6,000,000 - $7,000,000
    • Reverse osmosis
      • This system would replace the existing boiler water treatment system, eliminating the need for large quantities of costly chemicals and result in significant environmental and safety benefits.
      • CP17199; estimated to be less than $1,000,000


  • Based on cost experience for similar projects and current pricing information, preliminary project cost estimate ranges have been developed for these three projects, and the aggregate estimated project costs are $45,000,000- $48,000,000. The estimated cost for each project may change as that project and its scope are refined during the planning process. Each project's cost will be presented in the request for Authorization to Proceed.
  • The source of funds for the project is expected to be the general fund - utilities.

Questions, comments, concerns?