Michigan State University adopts plan that would phase out coal

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees has voted to adopt an Energy Transition Plan, which will guide the university’s future energy decisions and mean the eventual phase-out of coal-fired facilities.

The ultimate goal of the plan is to help create an environment in which the university is powered by 100% renewable energy, said MSU in an April 13 statement.

“This is an important step toward a renewable future at MSU,” said MSU President Lou Anna Simon. “This plan will set standards and govern future energy decisions, similar to how the Campus Master Plan guides the university’s growth.”

The plan has three specific goals: the pursuit of aggressive, sustainable energy conservation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the re-investment of energy savings for future renewable technologies; investment in sustainable energy research and development; and applying what MSU learns in the energy transition process to improve the quality of life for local, regional and national communities.

Currently, the chief power provider to MSU’s 5,200-acre campus is the T.B. Simon plant. Located on the south end of campus, the power plant burns coal, natural gas and biomass to produce steam that is used for heat and electricity. The university also has two solar arrays that are used to produce on-campus energy, as well as a geothermal system currently under construction.

The plan itself said about T.B. Simon that in 2011, more natural gas was used at the plant to supplant some coal burn. Also, in November 2011, a permit was granted setting new biomass burn caps of 30% in boiler 4 and 5% in boilers 1-3. The old cap was 10% for just boiler 4. The plant’s reliance on coal has been reduced 28% since 2006.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.