University’s Co-Gen Plant Results in Gas Co. Rebate Check

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Jan. 6, 2009 -

Redlands' efficient energy center has reduced the campus' carbon footprint by some 30%-- and resulted in a $739,000 rebate given on Jan. 5.

 Redlands' cogeneration and chiller plant has not only been providing environmental benefits, it's also reaped financial rewards for the university.

 The university's efforts to be environmentally conscious has resulted in a reduction of its carbon footprint—and a rebate of $739,000 to the university from Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) as part of its Self-Generation Incentive Program.

The Self-Generation Incentive Program was created by the California Public Utilities Commission in 2001 as part of an effort to encourage consumers to begin generating their own energy. The incentive provided to Redlands was determined by calculating 30 percent of the project's eligible costs.

The incentive check was presented to the university on Jan. 5 at a ceremony with university leaders and supporters and officials from the city and The Gas Company.

Mayor Jon Harrison presented the university with a certificate of recognition for its efforts in contributing to a sustainable future for the city. It noted that with its cogeneration and chiller plant, "the university provides energy, heating and cooling for a third of the buildings on campus while reducing its carbon footprint by 30 percent."

 That's a number university officials have hailed as a significant achievement.

"That's just enormous,"President Stuart Dorsey said during the event of the reduction of the campus' carbon footprint.

Standing in front of the campus' Energy Center and cogeneration plant— what President Dorsey called the university's most visible commitment to sustainability— university leaders and supporters officially dedicated the plant and celebrated its completion.

With its cogeneration plant, the university is able to produce a majority of its energy, as well as heating and cooling for a third of the buildings on campus.

An extension of plant's capabilities to buildings in the north end of campus was completed this fall; it became operational in 2007.

The system uses a 1,500-kW Caterpillar lean-burn natural gas engine, which has a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system to control emissions. Waste heat produced in the process is used to provide energy for a chiller, which then gives chilled water for the campus cooling loop. The waste heat is also used to help provide hot water for the heating loop.

The idea for an onsite cogeneration plant came several years ago during a state energy crisis. The university consulted with Goss Engineering of Corona, which designed the system; Johnson Power Systems, with which the university has a strong partnership, provided the reciprocating diesel engine and the Kato gen-set, the electrical generator.

Redlands' cogeneration plant not only allows the campus to rely less on outside energy suppliers, it also provides environmental benefits that are equivalent to planting more than 1,000 acres of forest while removing 640 cars from the road.

"As one of the 605 colleges and universities across the country to have signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, the University of Redlands is committed to significantly reducing its carbon footprint. The cogeneration plant is an important milestone toward this objective,"said Phil Doolittle, the university's executive vice president.

 Last school year, President Dorsey joined a consortium of college presidents pledging to move towards making their campuses "climate neutral" when he became a charter signatory of the Presidents Climate Commitment, which calls for an emissions inventory, set target dates and milestones for becoming climate neutral, as well as immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Integrating sustainability into the university's curriculum is also a part of the commitment.

Doolittle said that in addition to operating the new cogeneration plant, the university has committed in 2009 to purchasing 20 percent of its non-cogeneration electricity needs from alternative sources, primarily wind-generated power.

In other efforts by the university community to be sound environmental stewards, the campus officially opened up its first green dorm, Merriam Hall, this school year. The hall features many environmentally sound products such as low-flow shower heads and energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs, and furniture in the lounge and lobby area made from eco-friendly or recycled materials.

And in the dining hall, Bon Appétit Management Company, which oversees the university's food services, works to buy milk, vegetables and other food from local growers. The company also emphasizes a low carbon diet, offering food choices that leave a lower carbon impact.

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