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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities

New electric substation powers MSU research


May 16, 2017

Construction of the Spartan Substation at the T.B. Simon Power Plant has been completed, and the substation is officially being used to provide power to MSU’s campus. The electric substation, which was completed in March, was built in partnership with Consumers Energy. It replaced the existing, smaller substation, which was demolished in November 2016. MSU worked closely with Consumers Energy to ensure a smooth construction process.

“Michigan State University has a growing need for energy that will power its campus and research beyond this decade. Consumers Energy is pleased to play a role in meeting that need,” said Garrick Rochow, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president of distribution and customer operations. “This substation will help energize the campus while we continue to help MSU meet its ambitious clean energy and energy efficiency goals.”

The university is actively expanding its research capacity, which will require additional electric power over the next decade.

“Construction of the substation allowed us to significantly expand the capacity of the campus power system at a lower capital cost to the University,” said Bob Ellerhorst, utility services director, MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities.

In addition to this increase in research, 2019 will see the need for additional electric power to operate the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB). The FRIB project is expected to boost MSU’s academic profile nationally and internationally, and serve as a catalyst for regional economic development. The substation will provide primary power to FRIB.

According to FRIB’s website, this extra energy provided by the new substation will allow the FRIB to “enable scientists to make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes (that is, short-lived nuclei not normally found on Earth), nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions, and applications for society, including in medicine, homeland security, and industry.”

The upgraded Spartan Substation will have a capacity of more than 100 megawatts, compared to the previous substation’s 21 MW, which will not only provide power for FRIB research, but also backup power to the T.B. Simon Power Plant, helping the growing university community meet its energy needs. Clean, reliable, dependable power is a necessity for MSU, its faculty and student population.