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People have mixed reactions to UF’s decision about a new power plant project

By District Energy posted 10-06-2021 11:13




Gainesville declared a climate emergency in 2019. The same year, the University of Florida began designing a central energy power plant set to use natural gas.

After two years of planning, UF is moving forward with the project, including last week reviewing offers from contractors to build a plant to provide efficient steam, chilled water and electricity from Gale Lemerand Drive using a combined heat and power production method.

The project also calls for construction of both a new South District thermal piping distribution loop to improve chilled water and steam delivery to campus and hospital facilities, and a new electrical substation on Mowry Road.

UF has yet to announce how much the project will cost for construction and upkeep.

Natural gas and landfill burning would be among the resources used to power the plant. Both produce greenhouse gas, an emission the federal government said contributes to climate change.

The Gainesville has set a goal of using 100% renewable energy by 2045. UF said the power plant is estimated to run for 50 years. Despite the city and UF being separate entities, UF predicts the power plant will use natural gas and landfill burning longer than the city’s goal calls for.

UF Assistant Vice President for Communications Steve Orlando wrote in a statement to WUFT that the plant would be the best approach to provide UF with the power its infrastructure needs.

“The new energy plant will produce approximately 25,000 tons of chilled water and 210,000 pounds of steam per hour and will reduce UF’s overall carbon emissions by 25%,” Orlando wrote. “The largest step toward carbon reduction the university has taken in 15 years.

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