Michigan State University says it will stop burning coal by the end of 2016 at the T.B. Simon Power Plant on its campus in East Lansing.
The plant is the chief power provider on MSU's 5,200-acre campus and burns natural gas, coal and biomass to produce steam that is used for heat and electricity. The amount of coal burned at the plant already has been reduced by 65 percent since 2009-10, and three of the four boilers at the power plant now burn natural gas.
“Sustainability is one of our guiding institutional principles,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon says. “This represents a great opportunity for MSU to further reduce its environmental impact.”
Simon made the announcement during a webcast titled “A Conversation with President Simon about MSU’s Energy Future.”
The university determined that it would cost less to restore the fourth boiler’s capability to burn natural gas (less than $1 million) versus investing in new technologies to meet the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules and continue burning coal ($4.5 million with a recurring annual cost of $100,000).
The decision to stop burning coal propels advances three goals of MSU’s Energy Transition Plan: improve the environment; make resources available for investment into the research and development of sustainability energy; and demonstrate the university’s leadership role in sustainable energy.