Back to:
Current year's news releases

All news releases
News and information home

Award-Winning Heating Plant Upgrade Helps University Save on Energy Costs

RELEASED: May 24, 2006

EAU CLAIRE — Last fall a new system to control the boilers that produce steam to heat the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's 28 buildings and its private heating customers was completed.

The project was designed, installed and programmed by consulting engineering firm OMNNI Associates, working closely with UW-Eau Claire's Heating Plant crew.

Recently the State of Wisconsin awarded OMNNI with an Excellence in Engineering Design award, and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Wisconsin awarded OMNNI a 2006 State Finalist Award for the university's innovative boiler controls system.

Heating Plant Superintendent Jim Franklin said UW-Eau Claire is the first state facility to change over to a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) system to replace aging single-loop boiler controls.

"It was becoming difficult to find parts and costly to maintain these controls," Franklin said. "There was growing apprehension about a winter control failure, which could result in millions of dollars in damage to campus buildings."

OMNNI engineers designed an "open architecture" system that allows plant maintenance personnel to easily access the system for troubleshooting, parameter adjustments and software revisions. The design can be applied to future plant upgrades, saving tax dollars by reducing operating, engineering, outside service and maintenance costs.

"The new system gives us tremendous flexibility and helps us save energy. The longer we can stay up and use clean-burning, high-BTU, low-sulphur coal, the better," Franklin said, noting that natural gas or fuel oil is considerably more expensive than coal.

For example, it costs $4.87 to produce one million BTUs with coal, $11.85 with natural gas and $12.43 with fuel oil.

Terry Classen, director of Facilities Planning and Management, said such a controls replacement involves volumes of programming and ironing out the bugs on the part of Franklin and his crew.

"It required a lot of extra work and attention from our heating plant superintendent and crew," Classen said.

The design phase of the project began in October 2004. The last boiler went on line in October 2005.

"We have in-house programmers on board so it made good sense that we be the test project," said Franklin, who will join OMNNI engineers in making a presentation about the project at the State Power Plant Conference in September.

The Power Plant is operated and maintained 24 hours a day, seven days a week by Jim Brun, Greg Buros, Greg Falkenberg, Gary Grundman, Bob Kawell, Bob Thill, Dennis Watton and Jim Weber. Terry Hartman is the assistant plant superintendent.

-30-

JW/JB

Back to:
Current year's news releases

All news releases
News and information home

 

Excellence. Our Measure. Our Motto. Our Goal.