Dartmouth's power plant produces 18 kWh of energy. The College purchases 47 kWh from the state of New Hampshire

Dartmouth’s power plant produces 18 kWh of energy. The College purchases 47 kWh from the state of New Hampshire (Photo Credit: http://locomote.wordpress.com/2009/12/)

On October 27th, Stephen Stadford, an energy program manager at Dartmouth College, discussed a $14.5 million energy efficiency program Dartmouth has implemented at a general lecture on October 28. The goal of the program is to reduce the College’s dependence on fuel oil.

Dartmouth has a history of innovative heating and electricity use. The original central heating plant installed in 1898 was the first central heating plant in the Eastern half of the United States. It served 14 buildings and cost $77,000 to construct.

Currently Dartmouth produces 18 million kWh of energy at its power plant and purchases 47 million kWh from the state. The campus power plant produces energy using a practice called cogeneration. The plants use fuel oil to produce superheated steam. The steam drives turbines generators for electricity, and the backpressure steam that results afterwards heats the campus.

Dartmouth’s 1.1 million square feet campus extension since 2000 and the increasing price of fuel oil have increased the need for energy conservation.

The energy efficiency program has modernized monitoring of energy usage around campus. By installing new electric meters that automatically send 3000 data points a month to the campus energy management system, the Dartmouth energy management team uses the real time energy consumption data to alert the facility of abnormal energy readings.

The team has also installed a program that insures the most cost-efficient use of Dartmouth’s 3 power generators. Two of the generators are 3 MW generators, and a third is a 2 MW variant. Previously, the generators were alternatively turned on and off based on the campus’s electrical consumption. The newly installed program will calculate a more incremental, ideal combination of generator usage to keep costs low for the varying electrical loads required.

Dartmouth’s air-conditioning produced higher costs as the campus’s older absorption chiller used oil as its energy source. The increase in fuel oil prices prompted the team to replace the older device with an electric chiller. The new electric chiller operates eight times more efficiently and is six times more cost efficient than the previous absorption chiller.

The energy management team also plans major improvements of energy conservation amongst the top 30 energy users on campus. They have calculated that 25% of the buildings in Dartmouth consume 80% of the campus’s energy. While the dormitories on campus, which compose of 20% of the campus’s square footage, only occupy 10% of the energy spent.

The energy efficiency program intend for a 20% reduction in energy consumption by 2015, and encourages student participation in energy conservation.