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OSU Gets Approval to Build Combined Heat and Power Plant

Brent Warren Brent Warren OSU Gets Approval to Build Combined Heat and Power PlantA map of the site of the facility, from documents submitted to the Ohio Power Siting Board.
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The Ohio Power Siting Board has approved a proposal from Ohio State University to build a combined heat and power plant on its main campus.

The natural gas-powered facility, which was opposed by the Sierra Club and several other environmental organizations, will be located on about one acre of OSU-owned land at the northeast corner of Tharp Street and Herrick Drive, across the street from the OSU Veterinary Hospital.

There were two virtual public hearings held to gather feedback on the project, both of which were dominated by speakers who opposed the plant. Many students, in particular, argued that the university should be exploring more climate-friendly alternatives for generating power and heating buildings.

OSU has always maintained that the efficiency of the new plant, combined with future aspirations to move away from fracked natural gas as a fuel source for the facility, will lead to both short-term and long-term reductions in carbon emissions.

The plant, which is known as a co-generation facility, will supply electricity and heating to buildings in the central campus as well as the planned west campus “innovation district.”

OSU spokesperson Dan Hedman provided the following statement on the approval:

We are pleased with the Ohio Power Siting Board’s decision. This is positive news as the Combined Heat and Power Plant will support the campus core and is expected to cut carbon emissions by more than 30% in its first full year of operations.

Hedman added that a timeline for construction has not been finalized.

The Sierra Club also offered a response to today’s news on its website, including this statement from Neil Waggoner, Senior Campaign Representative for the organization’s Beyond Coal Campaign:

This proposed plant represents a failure of climate and public health leadership from what is supposed to be Ohio’s flagship university, and now the university community may have to bare the brunt of that failure for years to come.

The full text of today’s decision is available here.

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