January 30, 2016 - 9:46 AM EST
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Texas Wesleyan unveils new campus power plant

Jan. 30--

-- Brian Franks swung open the heavy steel doors and gestured to a large hunter-green contraption.

"This is where the magic happens," said Franks, who is the executive director of facilities for Texas Wesleyan University.

Called the Combined Heat and Power Plant, the co-generation system will allow Texas Wesleyan to generate its own energy, providing power to most of the 83-acre campus. It is the centerpiece of the university's $6.2 million energy-saving project.

Crews are completing the installation and renovations of the central power plant. The co-generation system will begin churning in coming weeks.

"This is not only good for the environment, but it is also good for our campus and for our financial vitality," university President Fred Slabach said. "Given the state of our water and energy resources, it is incumbent upon all institutions to conserve water and electricity. These enhancements will help us move forward in the 21st century."

Using natural gas, the Combined Heat and Power Plant will capture otherwise wasted heat from the engine and exhaust and turn it into energy. The system will supply 80 percent of power to 80 percent of buildings on campus, while also reducing the university's dependency on the state's power grid and water supply, Slabach said.

Texas Wesleyan is one of the first universities in

North Texas
to use this type of technology and one of eight in the state, said Jeff Lovejoy, project manager for The Way Cos., which installed the system.

"Co-generation systems are a growing trend," Lovejoy said. "The energy and cost savings are good for the environment and make good business sense."

The new power plant also includes a 250-ton absorption chiller, new cooling tower, new heating boilers, pumping systems and central plant optimization controls.

University officials say the self-funded project will pay for itself in cost savings. The power system is expected to save $377,000 a year, as well as 7.2 million kilowatt-hours per year, equivalent to 5,596 tons of carbon dioxide or 1,054 cars on the road.

In addition to the plant, Texas Wesleyan built a new irrigation system that will improve water usage and efficiency, Franks said, with a projected savings of 7.1 million gallons a year. In total, the university expects to see about $500,000 a year in energy savings.

Since 2013, Texas Wesleyan has spent more than $22 million in infrastructure improvements, including what the university calls the Rosedale Renaissance project, designed to revitalize the campus and the surrounding Polytechnic neighborhood.

Sarah Bahari: 817-390-7056, @sarahbfw


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