Pennsylvania State University Steam Plant

From Global Energy Monitor

Pennsylvania State University's West Campus Steam Plant consumes about 75,000 tons of coal per year,[1] and produces about 20,000 MWh per year, or 7%, of the campus's electricity demand - as well as about 175 tons of steam per hour, which is used for heating campus buildings. Built in 1929, the plant holds four boilers, and burns coal from Clarion County, Pennsylvania. (Several solar panels on the roof of the Office of Physical Plant building only produce enough electricity to power several rooms within that building.)[2]

In January 2011, it was announced that the campus would be spending $25 million to $35 million to convert the coal plant to natural gas to reduce carbon emissions. The university has been considering its options for upgrading the coal-fired plant since 2009 in anticipation of stiffer EPA regulations. The coal to gas conversion will impact the operation of both the West and East Campus steam plants. The West Campus steam plant provides heat and power to 270 campus buildings. It houses four 1960s-era coal-fired boilers and one 1947 boiler already converted to natural gas. The East Campus plant opened in 1972 and provides steam during peaking.[3]

Other electricity use for campus

Penn State buys 89% of its electricity from Allegheny Energy, which in turn gets 95% of its electricity production from coal-fired power plants. In an interview in 2003, Paul Ruskin, the spokesperson for the Office of Physical Plant, stated that "we would like to have totally non-polluting sources, but they're not out there yet."[4][5]

Plant Data

  • Name: West Campus Steam Plant
  • Location: West Park Ave. and North Burrowes St., State College, PA 16803
  • Energy Source: Bituminous coal
  • Capacity: N/A
  • Year(s) Built: 1929
  • Electricity Production: ca. 20,000 MWh
  • CO2 Emissions: ca. 20,000 tons/year
  • SO2 Emissions: N/A



  1. Sommer Wiggins,"Coal use sparks protests" The Daily Collegian Online, September 17, 2009
  2. Steam Plants Keep Penn State Warm, Daily Collegian, Jan. 18, 2005.
  3. "University coal-fired plant being converted to gas" Power-Gen, Jan. 21, 2011.
  4. The Buzz On Electricity, Daily Collegian, Sept. 23, 2003.
  5. Pennsylvania Electric Costs Capped, Daily Collegian, Oct. 17, 2005.

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