T.B. Simon Power Plant
The T.B. Simon Power Plant is a cogeneration facility producing electrical power and steam for the East Lansing campus, including academic buildings and south campus farms. Since 2016, the T.B. Simon Power Plant operates entirely on natural gas. With a peak generating capacity of roughly 99 megawatts, its six generating units can be activated or deactivated in response to campus demand in conjunction with the solar carports.
In its current configuration, the T.B. Simon Power Plant converts energy from natural gas into steam and electricity, which is used for building functions such as heating or cooling. Steam for use in HVAC and electric power are transmitted through a steam distribution network, which connects to more than 100 MSU buildings.
MSU's solar carport array is constructed on five of the university's largest commuter parking lots and covers 5,000 parking spaces. The solar carports are designed to deliver a peak power of 10.5 Megawatts and an annual energy of 15 million kilowatt-hours, which is enough to power approximately 1,800 Michigan homes. The solar array will produce electrical power at the time of day that demand is typically the highest, enabling the power plant to operate more efficiently.
The solar carports advance the Energy Transition Plan by improving the environment, investing in sustainable energy research, containing rising energy costs and positioning MSU as a leader of sustainable energy. The university plans to purchase all power produced by the solar arrays at a fixed rate through a 25 year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Inovateus, a solar company based in Indiana, and Alterra, a Canadian renewable energy company.
Energy Transition Plan
In 2009, MSU developed the Energy Transition Plan (ETP) to meet the growing needs of the campus, changing technologies and evolving regulations. The MSU Energy Transition Steering Committee—comprised of diverse staff, students and faculty—proposed a bold vision to transition campus to 100% renewable energy, catalyzed by President Lou Anna K. Simon’s Bolder by Design framework, which calls upon the campus community to create transformational change. To achieve this vision, a plan was enacted to address energy supply and demand, create new knowledge and strengthen partnerships, balancing capacity, health, reliability, environment and cost.
The ETP underwent a five year review in 2017, as mandated by the Energy Transition Steering Committee. To continue advancing operational efficiency, and to better capitalize on the academic and research systems on campus, it was determined that the plan should evolve to include more comprehensive sustainability goal-setting.
The ETP now serves as a framework for continued energy and sustainability progress at MSU, spearheaded by MSU’s Executive Vice President of Administrative Services.