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FAQ’s

Services Supplied by Plant

Q - Does the Central Plant control building temperatures?
A - No the plant only provides heating and cooling to each building. The PPS Mechanical Shop is responsible for providing heating and cooling through individual buildings.

 

Interruption of Services Related

Q - If heating or cooling is poor in a building does it mean the Central Plant is experiencing equipment malfunctions?
A -The Central plant is well maintained and very rarely experiences an equipment failure that would affect services to campus.  In a case of services being interrupted from the plant all campus buildings would be affected at the same time not just one building.

Q - How do electrical power bumps affect plant operation?
A - Most plant equipment use starters where contactors are held in by electro magnetic force. If power is interrupted for even a few seconds these contactors open up and shut down equipment to prevent damage to motors. This means that all boilers, chillers, air compressors, pumps etc. trip off line and have to be restarted manually by plant staff.

Q - Why can’t I get through to the Central Plant for several minutes to report a power failure on campus?
A - During power interruptions that affect the Central Plant it is important that plant personnel get steam and cooling services back on to campus as soon as possible. This means they are probably out in the plant restarting equipment. Also when there is a campus wide problem plant staff get overloaded with trouble calls coming in from all over campus. Please be patient and keep trying to get though.

 

Cooling Related

Q - Does the plant use lake water to directly cool campus buildings? 
A - No the plant uses large centrifugal chillers to cool chilled water which is sent out to cool campus buildings. The lake water is used in the chiller condensers to condense the refrigerant. This takes the place of using cooling towers and makes it much cheaper for the plant to provide cooling to campus buildings.

Q - How does the lake water get to the Central Plant?
A - The lake water is pulled in out of the lake through a four foot diameter pipe that extends ¾ s of mile out and 35 feet down into the lake. It is pumped up to campus through an underground 30” pipe using four 150 and one 300 horse power centrifugal turbine well pumps in a pumping station located at the bottom of the bluff at the Alumni House.

 

Heating Related

Q - Does the Central Plant shut down its boilers during the summer months?
A - No the plant produces steam year round. During the summer months steam is needed for cooking, heating hot water, building reheat and to operate chillers. Many times our summer steam loads rival our winter loads. This is mainly due to the operation of our two steam turbine driven chillers.

Q - If the boilers are running all summer then why isn’t there smoke coming out of the plants stacks?
A - The boilers at the plant burn fuel using complete combustion and do not produce smoke. However water vapor is a byproduct of combustion which comes out of the stack with the flue gas. In the winter time this water vapor condenses in the cool winter air giving the appearance of smoke coming out of the stack.

 

Miscellaneous

Q - Does the plant give tours?
A - Yes we give tours of the Central Plant when ever they are requested. See contact numbers.