Ohio State University CHP plant project nearing $290M price tag, commissioning date delayed

Feb. 15, 2022
The university originally pegged the cost of building the CHP plant at around $278 million, although that figure reportedly has gone into the $290 million range. Once operational, the cost savings could be $10 million per year

Ohio State University’s new combined heat and power plant currently under construction may take a while longer and cost a bit more to complete.

In the long run, the 105-MW CHP project is expected to pay for itself by saving the university millions in energy costs and helping reach its goal of reducing carbon emissions 55 percent over current power generation emissions.

“The CHP is expected to cut carbon emissions by more than 30% in its first full year of operation and is the university’s largest singular action to achieve emissions reductions,” reads an OSU website statement on the project. “The new plant, which will be located off of John Herrick Drive, is one component of an updated energy system for Ohio State that serves academic, research and medical care space and will allow for expansion within the West Campus Innovation District.”

For now, the project which started in 2020 has been delayed with various issues such as COVID-19 workforce challenges, supply chain issues and construction complexities, according to news reports.

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The university originally pegged the cost of building the CHP plant at around $278 million, although that figure has gone into the $290 million range. The cost savings, the campus energy leaders estimated, could be $10 million per year and pay for itself sometime in the next decade.

The electricity, heating and cooling facility was expected to be completed next year on the Columbus, Ohio campus. OSU officials are not giving a definite timeline currently.

Natural gas-fired combustion turbines will generate the electricity used on campus, while exhaust heat from those units will be converted to beneficial heating and cooling resources.

A news report quoting a university official said the system is working out alternative arrangements for temporary power to some campus buildings while the CHP plant is still under construction.

Ohio State Energy Partners is responsible for operating and maintaining the university utility system for a 50-year agreement period.

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(Rod Walton, senior editor for EnergyTech, is a 14-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper and trade journalist. He can reached at [email protected]).

About the Author

Rod Walton, EnergyTech Managing Editor | Senior Editor

For EnergyTech editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

Rod Walton has spent 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. He formerly was energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World. Later, he spent six years covering the electricity power sector for Pennwell and Clarion Events. He joined Endeavor and EnergyTech in November 2021.

Walton earned his Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. His career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World. 

EnergyTech is focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

He was named Managing Editor for Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech starting July 1, 2023

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.