UES is responsible for supplying the energy used on campus through production and purchasing. The university purchases about half of the electricity used on campus through Prairieland Energy, Inc. (PEI), a subsidiary wholly-owned by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. On-campus generation comes primarily from two sources – Abbott Power Plant, the Campus Chilled Water System (CCWS), and the Solar Farm. As a cogeneration facility, Abbott Power Plant supplies 75% of the campus’ energy through generated steam and electricity, maintaining a careful balance between safety, reliability, sustainability, and cost-efficiency. During low campus demand for both heat and air conditioning, Abbott typically burns natural gas. During the winter months, when the campus heat load is highest, a combination of both coal and natural gas is necessary.
Extensive underground piping connects the majority of campus buildings to the five CCWS production plants. Twenty-three chillers (steam and electric) deliver the necessary chilled water to operate building air conditioning systems. A 6.5 million-gallon Thermal Energy Storage (TES) tank, built in 2010, can provide 50,000 ton-hours to help meet the cooling demand on campus.
F&S is committed to renewable energy solutions for campus. To date, these efforts include five operating solar installations. A Solar Farm, designed, built, and operated by Phoenix Solar South Farms LLC, will produce an estimated 7.86 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) or approximately 2% of the FY15 electrical demand for the Urbana campus. The university has a 10-year power purchase agreement with Phoenix Solar to deliver all electricity produced by the Solar Farm directly to the campus grid. In addition, the university will own/receive all current and future Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and emission credits associated with energy from the 5.87 megawatt (MW) Solar Farm.
UES is developing a Utilities Production and Distribution Master Plan that will provide a comprehensive evaluation of campus energy purchasing, production, and distribution through FY49.