Notre Dame breaks ground on hydro - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions, Hydro  -  August 21, 2019

Notre Dame breaks ground on hydro

By summer 2021, the University of Notre Dame is expected to generate about seven percent of the University’s electrical needs and offset nearly 9,700 tons of carbon dioxide annually from the 2.5 megawatt (MW) hydroelectric facility that broke ground this week. The University and South Bend, Ind.’s Venues Parks & Arts are partnering on the project located on the dam in the St. Joseph River. Underground transmission lines will transmit the electricity generated by the new facility to campus.

A report from Notre Dame News described the hydroelectric plant as the latest component in Notre Dame’s wide-ranging sustainability plan, which is designed to eliminate coal use in the University’s power plant by the end of 2020 as well as cut its carbon footprint by half by 2030. To date, the University has reduced its carbon emissions by 49%.

Overall, Notre Dame has targeted six key areas with its sustainability plan: energy and emissions; water; building and construction; waste; procurement, licensing and sourcing; and education, research, and community outreach. To date, the University has: introduced five green roofs, two new combined-cycle natural gas-fired combustion turbines, 2,650 tons of geothermal energy production, a 2.5-million-gallon thermal energy storage system, and three operational solar arrays. It also has achieved more than $15 million worth of energy conservation measures and funding for a number of research initiatives by faculty and graduate students. 

In 2016, Notre Dame agreed to lease the hydro facility site for 50 years after the city transferred a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission exemption to the University to operate a hydropower facility. As part of the agreement, Notre Dame also will pay the city $1 million to assist with the renovation of a local park, which is adjacent to the dam.


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