The University of Arkansas at Little Rock unveiled a new power generation plant on campus Wednesday that university officials said will reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions significantly in the coming years.
During a ceremony at the campus, university officials and representatives of Little Rock-based energy firm TME demonstrated UALR’s top-of-the-line power plant, capable of powering the campus during outages or scheduled power grid interruptions.
“An on-campus generation station helps the university meet the needs of our entire campus community,” Chancellor Joel E. Anderson said.
The generating station is part of a campus energy conservation plan that began in 2010 under the direction of David Millay, associate vice chancellor of facilities management and planning. The project also included upgrades to the district’s heating and cooling systems and other energy conservation measures.
With the new generating capacity, UALR cut its utility bill in half by agreeing to periodic interruptions from the Entergy power supply — a process that occurred multiple times during the summer. In total, UALR will save a projected $2.6 million annually in utility costs.
During the 2016 fiscal year, UALR is expected to pay less than half the national average of college and university utility rates. The main campus’s utility bill is expected to be approximately $1.25 per square foot, while the national average rate for higher education institutions is nearly $2.70 per square foot.
“Today’s ceremony marks a significant step in UALR’S ongoing strategic energy plan,” Millay said. “Going forward we will continue to seize every opportunity to contain demand-side and supply-side utility costs.”
In addition, UALR’s conservation initiative cut greenhouse emissions by more than 35% while reducing energy consumption by more than 50% for the 250-acre campus that includes about 60 buildings and 2.8 million square feet.
Anderson noted that the new generating plant will reduce the university’s need to cancel classes because of unexpected power outages.
“In addition to our ability to proceed with classes, in the event of a power outage, we will be able to ensure continuity of electricity in our residence halls and food service facilities, as well as provide stable environments in research labs,” Anderson said. “The generation station is also evidence of the university’s commitment to energy-efficiency and cost-savings.”
UALR officials said workers completed the generating station by July, about a month ahead of schedule and $200,000 under the projected $29.5 million budget.
The project was a collaboration between UALR and TME, a Little Rock-based energy and engineering services firm now housed in the former Alltel Corp. headquarters at One Allied Drive. Previous projects with TME resulted in four UALR buildings that are now LEED gold certified and a fifth building that is silver certified. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification recognizes best-in-class “green” building strategies and practices.