National Grid gives $5.6 million rebate for UMMS power plant

By Jim Fessenden and Bryan Goodchild

UMass Medical School Communications

April 10, 2012

UMass Medical School has been awarded $5.6 million from National Grid—the largest incentive of its kind ever given by the company in the commonwealth—for an energy-efficient 14,000-square-foot expansion of its power plant. The incentive is designed to help UMass Medical School achieve its energy efficiency goals by providing innovative energy solutions that also will benefit the community through reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

UMass Medical School’s power plant also provides a source of energy and power for UMass Memorial Medical Center’s University Campus.

At the heart of the power plant expansion is a high-efficiency, 7.5-megawatt, gas-fired combustion turbine and an associated heat recovery system that will boost the Medical School’s capacity to generate electricity on its Worcester campus while reducing its green-house gas emissions. The expansion, built to support the 500,000-square-foot Albert Sherman Center research and education facility currently under construction, will accommodate the increased demand for electricity, steam and chilled water expected when the state-of-the-art building is completed in December.

With the new cogeneration system in place, UMMS will increase its maximum electric output from 10 to 17.5 megawatts, allowing it to meet most of the electrical demand of the campus and provide all the steam and chilled water needed for heating and cooling.

Once installed, the new gas turbine will replace one of the plant’s original gas and oil-fired steam boilers, which will be taken off-line and kept in reserve as an emergency back-up. Since natural gas burns cleaner than oil, and the new jet turbine is highly efficient, the expanded power plant will actually have lower green-house gas emissions, despite its added energy capacity. The medical school will maintain a connection to the external utility grid to handle peak demand and for a backup resource.

“As a public institution, we believe it is incumbent on us to lead by example and manage our growth in ways that limit the impact on our environment,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins. “It takes strong partnerships to meet these challenges. National Grid’s incentive program allows us to focus on making investments for the long-term by introducing cleaner technologies to our campus that will pay dividends for the people of the commonwealth for decades to come.”

“National Grid is passionate about sustainability and its stewardship of our region’s energy resources. That’s why we drive energy efficiency with our energy partners, for both their short-term benefit and the long-term promise for us all,” said National Grid Massachusetts President Marcy L. Reed. “UMass Medical School has a long history of championing and implementing energy-efficient measures and is truly leading by example. We are delighted to collaborate with the school on this important project.”

“UMass Memorial Medical Center is proud to be involved in this partnership,” said John G. O’Brien, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care. “By becoming more efficient in the way we produce and consume power and energy, we can help to reduce expenses, which helps to ultimately reduce the overall cost of health care.”

Related links on UMassMedNow:
All fired up at the power plant: ‘first fire’ test successful
Jet engine will drive expanded campus power plant
Jet turbine lands on campus
New cooling towers rising at power plant
Sherman Center video series: Designing efficiencies
Garage light replacement project will save $80,000 annually