Central Power Plant Expansion

An expansion of U-M’s Central Power Plant (CPP) to enhance campus-wide power reliability and reduce greenhouse gas emissions was completed in winter 2022. 

The project followed a recommendation by the 2015 President’s Committee on Greenhouse Gas Reduction and is part of the university’s transition toward carbon-free alternatives, including purchasing renewable energy and installing geo-exchange heating and cooling systems in select new construction (starting with the Leinweber Computer Science and Information Building).

The Central Power Plant is a highly efficient, reliable on-campus source of heat and electricity that supports mission-critical functions across U-M, including life-saving research and the 24/7 demands of a major regional medical center.

Reliability and sustainability are the key benefits of this project, which included the addition of a 15-megawatt combustion turbine. Increased on-site generation improves reliability by making the U-M campus less reliant on incoming power. The vast majority of campus power outages stem from a loss of incoming power from the electric utility, whereas the university electrical system is entirely underground and quite reliable. 

The turbine supports U-M’s sustainability goals, with a cumulative reduction of more than 400,000 metric tons of carbon emissions expected within the first ten years of operation. 

Co-generation technology at the CPP converts waste heat into steam to heat buildings and sterilize equipment at the hospital. The CPP produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than regional power sources because its co-generation system is 80% efficient, whereas traditional power generation is approximately 30% efficient.

The turbine and the university’s first renewable power purchase agreement will allow the university to reach its 2025 greenhouse gas reduction goal (25% reduction from 2006 baseline levels by 2025) several years early, as well as support U-M’s path toward carbon neutrality.

Updated 3/9/2022

Questions? Contact Andy Berki, aberki@umich.edu.