University Power Plant

University Power Plant

Utilities & Energy Management

Utilities & Energy Management is responsible for the Power Plant, Chilled Water Plant, Water Plant, district energy (co-generation), energy conservation initiatives, energy management tools and monitoring, and renewable energy.

Big Ten and Friends Mechanical & Energy Conference, 2014

2014 Big Ten & Friends Mechanical & Energy Conference, October 12-15, 2014, hosted by the University of Iowa.


Org Chart
UEM Staff Listing and Contact Information

Quick Facts

  • Biomass conversion: the Power Plant retrofitted one coal-fired boiler to burn oat hulls from Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids, reducing  fuel costs and emissions. Annual savings is $670,000.
  • Power Plant improvements to increase efficiency,  including heat recovery and improving the efficiency of turbine generators,  are saving an estimated $1.14 million a year.
  • Chilled water improvements. Central chilled  water is very efficient compared to many smaller chillers. By increasing the  efficiency of how buildings use chilled water, the UI is saving $367,000 a  year.
  • Energy audits provide a detailed analysis of how  energy is used in a building, offering opportunities for learning how to  reduce energy consumption. This program is saving $1.8 million a year.


The University of Iowa operates and maintains a central Power Plant, three Chilled Water Plants and a Water Plant on the main campus and satellite facilities at the UI Research Park (Oakdale Campus).  The plants provide steam, water, high-quality water, chilled water, electricity and sewer to the entire campus, including The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. 

Co-generation - Combined Heat and Power

The University of Iowa has operated a co-generation plant at its current location since 1926.  Within its combined heat and power production cycle, and use of biomass fuels, the University of Iowa is able to co-generate energy for cost-effective electricity, cooling and water treatment on campus. Combined Heat and Power

Power Plant

UI Power Plant Brochure (pdf)
The UI Power Plant contains the following equipment:

  • 6 Boilers - capacity totaling 660,000 lbs/hr of steam
  • 3 Turbine Generators - totaling 24.7 megawatts

The University of Iowa Power Plant has an innovative partnership with Quaker Oats on the biomass fuel project. The University uses a biomass material, oat hulls, produced by the Cedar Rapids, IA Quaker Oats facility. About 60 tons of discarded oat hulls from Quaker Oats are delivered daily to the UI Power Plant. The organic material is burned with coal to produce energy.

It converts the following raw materials

  • 93,000 tons of coal
  • 36,000 tons of oat hulls
  • 261 million cubic feet of natural gas
  • 9,000 tons of limestone
  • 49,375,000 gallons of potable water

into energy directly consumed by the campus as follows:

  • 75,000,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity
  • 2,288,000 MMBtu of steam

Electric generation currently supplies between a quarter and a third of electric demand on campus.

University of Iowa statement on coal ash displacement

Oakdale Renewable Energy Plant

The Oakdale Renewable Energy Plant is a project under consideration for constructing and operating an energy plant using alternative and renewable energy sources such as biomass, landfill gas, anaerobic digester methane, and gasifier syngas. Oakdale Renewable Energy Plant

Chilled Water

The Chilled Water Utility has 15 chillers and 2 absorption units, exceeding 40,000 tons of cooling capacity for the UI Campus.  Chilled Water

Water Plant

The University of Iowa is one of only a handful of Universities that also operates it’s own Water Plant.  In addition to providing a cost-effective source of water for the campus, it also serves as an important teaching facility for future engineers and water treatment specialists. The Water Plant uses 3,800 MMBtu of steam and 2,200,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity to purify and distribute 900 million gallons of water annually. Water Plant

Distribution Systems

Mechanical Distribution maintains all of the University's steam, chilled water and domestic water piping. In addition to these systems. Electrical Distribution maintains most of the high voltage equipment on campus. Distribution Systems

Utility Enterprise

The Utility Enterprise is a recharge cost center that sells energy and services to the campus to fund its zero-profit budget.  In addition to the steam, electricity and water produced by the above facilities, the Utility Enterprise also distributes 285,000,000 kilowatt-hours of purchased electricity and sends 534,000 ccf of wastewater to the City of Iowa City.

Utility customers for the main campus include General Fund buildings, Residence Services, Athletics, and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, paying according to usage.

Energy Management

Facilities Management employs a comprehensive set of energy management tools to increase efficiency and productivity while reducing costs. Energy Management