Polluting steam plant at UT targeted for conversion by Gov. Hasl

Polluting steam plant at UT targeted for conversion by Gov. Haslam

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The smoke stack would be torn down, and workers no longer needed at the steam plant would be trained for new jobs on campus, meaning the conversion wouldn't cost anyone their job. The smoke stack would be torn down, and workers no longer needed at the steam plant would be trained for new jobs on campus, meaning the conversion wouldn't cost anyone their job.
"It will reduce our emissions by 50 percent, our carbon dioxide emissions by two thirds. And to put that into context, that's the equivalent of taking 7,000 cars off the road on a daily basis," said UT Associate Vice Chancellor Dave Irvin. "It will reduce our emissions by 50 percent, our carbon dioxide emissions by two thirds. And to put that into context, that's the equivalent of taking 7,000 cars off the road on a daily basis," said UT Associate Vice Chancellor Dave Irvin.

By JESSA LEWIS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Following Monday's State of the State address, the University of Tennessee is speaking out about proposed changes to the steam plant on campus.

Currently, the plant is coal-powered, but Gov. Bill Haslam says he wants the plant to be more environmentally-friendly.

Plans are being drawn up to convert the coal-powered steam plant at UT to run off of natural gas.

"It will reduce our emissions by 50 percent, our carbon dioxide emissions by two thirds. And to put that into context, that's the equivalent of taking 7,000 cars off the road on a daily basis," said UT Associate Vice Chancellor Dave Irvin.

The smoke stack would be torn down, and workers no longer needed at the steam plant would be trained for new jobs on campus, meaning the conversion wouldn't cost anyone their job.

The stacks of coal on campus will be eliminated and replaced by natural gas tanks, which could help supply the university with power in the event of an emergency. The new system will also be a lot quieter.

The university is asking the state for $24 million for the project. The total cost for the project is estimated at $25 million.

But the university says eliminating coal could save between $4-5 million dollars a year in utility costs on campus, even with new buildings.

"This plant was built in 1961, and so many of the controls are outdated, we can't get parts for them, they are tremendously inefficient. This project increases our efficiency by over ten percent," Irvin said.

The coal-powered plant is the second biggest polluter in East Tennessee, and the Environmental Protection Agency has a timeline for cleaner air; the university has to lower emissions by 2016.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy says they see the move as a step in the right direction for UT. They hope the school continues to make advances towards clean energy in the coming years.

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