Wellesley College to transition central utility plant away from natural gas - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, GHG Emissions, CHP  -  February 10, 2021

Wellesley College to transition central utility plant away from natural gas

Wellesley College, a liberal arts institution near Boston, announced on Feb. 10 that it is replacing its central utility plant to reduce demand costs and use of natural gas in an effort to meet its environmental sustainability objectives.

“At Wellesley, we believe that responsible stewardship begins at home, and are committed to reaching efficiency goals,” Dave Chakraborty, assistant vice president for facilities management and planning at Wellesley College, said in a statement. “This project will move Wellesley forward towards a more sustainable future and helps achieve our goal of reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions 37% by 2026, as compared to the institution's 2010 baseline.”

The existing utility plant consisted of a reciprocating engine-driven CHP facility with a vintage chiller plant, all of which were at the end of their useful life. Ameresco will install installations at the plant including 4MW of power generation, paralleling switchgear, 800-ton efficient electric chillers, a 600HP firetube pony boiler, a five-cell cooling tower and a 4,000-ton thermal energy storage system. 

All of the planned upgrades preserve the best power rate from the Wellesley Municipal Light Plant. The plant’s electric generators will operate primarily in “peak-shaving” mode so that it will increase cost savings and decrease the strain on the local utility during peak times of the year.

Construction on the plant began in December of 2020 and is scheduled to be entering commissioning in May 2021.

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