Brass Tacks

Peak University Park energy demand more than doubled between 1987 and 2005, from 28 MVA [million volt-amperes] to 58 MVA, attributed primarily to “moderate levels of Campus expansion and significant levels of increased cooling of Campus buildings.” Source: PSU Energy Strategic Master Plan 2007 – Tab 4.

Penn State established an Energy Conservation Policy (AD 64) and Energy Conservation Policy Advisory Committee in July 2009. To my knowledge, there is no public information available about the work of the advisory committee or assessments of campus-wide knowledge of and compliance with the policy. Source: PSU AD64 – Energy Conservation Policy.

On December 18, 2009, during a brainstorming session, “Hutch Hutchinson stated that PSU might save 50% of building energy usage through end-use efficiency. Weatherization should be the first step implemented. Altering user patterns and providing feedback are also important.” Source: 12.18.09 PSU Energy Strategic Master Plan Brainstorm.

In July 2010, Penn State launched a federally-funded research facility in Philadelphia: the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub, although the facility is reportedly mismanaged and may lose federal funding. Sources: EEB-HUBOnward State.

On September 26, 2012, PSU Engineering Services Manager Ian Salada responded in writing to PA-DEP Air Quality Program Manager Muhammad Zaman’s Technical Deficiency letter. Zaman asked: “How much of the University Park Campus annual steam demand can be accomodated by both the West Campus and East Campus steam plants?” Salada replied that the ECSP can produce 320,000 lb/hr, the WCSP plant can produce 495,000 lb/hr and the peak demand over the last 10 years occurred in November 2006, at 330,000 lb/hr. Zaman asked “What are the service coverage areas for both the East Campus and the West Campus Steam Plants and do they completely overlap?” Salada replied: “Each plant can serve the entire university.” Source: 9.26.12 – PSU Response to Technical Deficiency Letter.

On November 16, 2012, the PSU Board of Trustees authorized the Office of Physical Plant to “award contracts to modify the West Campus Steam Plant and to ensure the appropriate supply of natural gas…at a cost of $48,300,000.” Source: PSU BOT minutes.

On July 31, 2013 and August 30, 2013, during 30-day public comment periods, Dave Stone wrote letters to the PA-DEP identifying numerous discrepancies in emissions calculations among Penn State’s public notices regarding application for Title V Operating Permit 14-00003.  7.31.13 Stone Comments DEP; 8.30.13 Stone Comments to DEP.

On September 12, 2013, at a public forum titled “Our Energy Future,” when asked for an estimate of energy use reduction from good compliance with AD-64 (end-user behavioral changes), along with retrofits to stop air infiltration, OPP Director Rob Cooper estimated about 25% net reduction, factoring in unspecified campus growth. Cooper also announced university plans to spend $60 million over the next five years on unspecified “energy conservation” measures. Cooper also reported that the West Campus Steam Plant conversion project was estimated to cost $66.5 million and that the Columbia Gas installation of the natural gas transmission pipeline to serve the WCSP was estimated to cost $13 million. [Source: Handwritten notes made by Katherine Watt during “Our Energy Future” forum. Online documents to confirm not yet published by Penn State sources.]

QUESTION:

When will Penn State release enough information to enable an informed, public cost-benefit analysis regarding the relative merits of a conservation-first approach as compared to a coal-to-gas-conversion-first approach to meet the January 2016 EPA MACT compliance deadline?

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