Skip to main content
Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities
An impage of the old power plant building


  • In 1855, when Michigan State University opened, all of the buildings were heated with wood fireplaces. A series of fires drove leaders to find a solution.
  • In 1890 MSU built a central power plant to provide heat for the buildings. All buildings were connected to steam pipes in a system called “district heating.”
  • The construction of the Shaw Lane Power Plant in 1948 met the serious need for energy facility improvements.
  • The T.B. Simon Power Plant is the third power plant on MSU's campus.
  • In total, the power plant has five units that provide power to MSU, and now burns only natural gas:
    • Units No. 1 and No. 2, were built in 1965 and burned pulverized coal and gas,
    • Unit No. 3 was built in 1973 and burned coal and gas,
    • and Unit No. 4, a fluidized bed burner that burned coal, gas, and biofuel, was built in 1993.
  • In 2006, the plant added another boiler featuring the newest technology for burning natural gas. It powers two turbines:
    • Unit No. 5, a steam turbine/generator and
    • Unit No. 6, a natural gas combustion turbine and a companion waster heat/heat-recovery steam generator.
  • The additions of Units No. 5 and No. 6 provided the plant with the Blackstart capability. The Blackstart capability allows the power plant to restart itself on its own if the university were to lose power.