The Princeton Energy Plant
Some time ago, there was a power outage affecting the southern end of the Princeton campus. No one noticed. There were no lights out, no calls to the facilities service center, and no academic work was disrupted. The Princeton Co-Generation Plant, with its state-of-the–art control center, detected the outage and in 600 milliseconds increased its output, generating the electricity needed to keep the lights on. Powered by a General Electric LM-1600 gas turbine, the Co-Generation plant can generate 15 megawatts of electricity (about equal to Princeton’s average electricity needs on a given day).
What makes this plant a key part of Princeton’s sustainability strategy and much more than a simple “back-up” generator, is that the heat that isn’t used in making electricity is recovered to make steam or chilled water to heat or cool the campus. The resulting efficiency is in the range of 80%. If that doesn’t sound remarkable please note that the typical efficiency for a utility energy plant is 35-40%. The award-winning facility’s emissions are rigorously monitored by its experienced staff (and state and federal authorities) to ensure the very highest standard of environmental compliance.
We’ve chosen to highlight this facility as it’s celebrating a milestone of sorts: The generator has been off-line for a “once-in-a-decade” maintenance program. The heart of the generator, a rotor over 20 feet long and weighing over 12 tons, was removed for inspection and minor upgrades. A detailed inspection of the various critical areas revealed no issues. The unit has been re-assembled and is soon to be spinning at 1800 revolutions per minute, ready for another ten years of service to Princeton.