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University of California cogeneration plant gets its power back

Power has been restored to the University of California at Berkeley’s cogeneration plant, which had been without power since an explosion damaged the campus’s underground power lines on 30 September.

The university’s public affairs office said an investigation will be launched into the cause of the explosion. According to student-run newspaper The Daily Californian, campus officials said the explosion was related to a power outage caused by the theft of copper wiring at an electrical facility off campus.

UC Berkeley

The cogeneration plant uses a natural gas-fired GE LM2500 turbine generator to produce 25 MW of electrical power and 4 MWth of steam, which is distributed through a series of underground tunnels to heat campus buildings. The plant is operated by GE and has been online since 1987, with an upgrade in 1998.

On-site power and heat are common features of the University of California’s 10 campuses — such as UC Irvine’s 18 MW cogeneration plant which uses a combustion turbine and heat recovery steam generator with a chiller addition. And UC San Diego’s combined heat and power facility, which features two 13.5 MW gas turbine generators, is part of a campus smart microgrid system that incorporates photovoltaic solar panels and fuel cells and meets over 90 percent of the campus’s power needs.à‚ 

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