The UTM Power Generation Facility has helped keep UTM’s campus powered since its groundbreaking ten years ago.
The facility, located on Derryberry Lane near the Livestock Demonstration Farm just north of the main campus, is a $4.4 million project that created experimental learning opportunities for students while also providing reliable emergency power for the university in the event of power outages.
The facility initially signed a contract with TVA during construction agreeing to receive reduced electric costs in exchange for removing the University from the grid during peak hours. However, the contract was terminated, and a new contract replaced the original. The new contract allowed the University to benefit from reduced electric costs in return for the Power Generation Facility being able to remove the campus from the grid with only a five minute notice.
The facility was constructed with four two-megawatt generators capable of producing a total of 3,208 megawatt-hours of energy each year. The Tennessee state air permit regulations restrict the consumption of diesel fuel to 163,000 gallons a year. The facility uses 560 gallons per hour when operating at maximum capacity, although doing so would limit the facility to operating just under 300 hours per year. The facility is only permitted to produce maximum power for two weeks per year. Currently, the facility is only operational during times of stress or TVA-announced removals.
Although power outages still happen on campus, one of the main goals of the power facility is to increase the reliability of the facility. Many outages are caused by the failure of the generators to generate power or to provide warning before TVA-regulated downtime. In addition, certain issues caused by operating at maximum power may affect the generator’s ability to resume operation after being taken offline.
The Power Generation Facility has been extremely beneficial to campus in terms of finances. Many expected improvements for the future include a transition to LED lighting, a reduction of HVAC loads and an initiative to explore alternative energy sources.