University of Iowa

Utilities Production and Distribution

About Us

The University of Iowa Utilities Enterprise provides reliable electricity, heating, and cooling to a 2,000-acre main campus, which is comprised of over 373 major buildings,  including critical patient, research, and lab facilities. The system provides critical services to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, a research hospital that admits over 32,000 patients annually, providing backup in any grid failure.

The University of Iowa utilizes District Energy and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Systems (co-generation), which is a highly efficient, cost-effective and more sustainable process for providing energy. The University’s three energy systems; Cogeneration, Electric Distribution and Chilled Water work together for optimal efficiency.

 

 

High Voltage Electrical Distribution pulling 15,000v electric power distribution cable into substation.

Production Facilities

University of Iowa Utilities produces steam at its Power Plant on the main campus and at the Oakdale Energy Plant on the Oakdale Campus to supply buildings with critical heating, cooling, and sterilization.  UI Utilities also provides electrical power to the Main Campus through a combination of power generated at the UI Main Power Plant and power purchased from MidAmerican Energy, or from Alliant Energy on the Oakdale Campus.  In addition, UI Utilities operates four Chilled Water Plants and three satellite chillers which provide air-conditioning to campus, and a Water Plant which purifies and distributes 900 million gallons of water to campus annually.  

UI Power Plant
Main Power Plant

The main Power Plant, located on Burlington Street in Iowa City,  provides steam for heating, cooling, and sterilization as well as providing energy security to all main campus buildings. The combined heat and power plant provides about 25% of the University's electric power needs and nearly all of the heating needs. The UI is on the Path to Zero Coal by 2025 and is increasing its use of biomass to reduce reliance on coal.

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Newton Road Chiller
Chilled Water Plant

The University's first chilled water plant opened in 1970 and was located in what is now Hospital Ramp 3.

Today, the system has expanded to include four plants and three satellite chillers for a total capacity exceeding 40,000 tons. Chilled water is currently used primarily for air-conditioning.

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Water Plant
Water Plant

The University of Iowa also operates its own Water Plant. In addition to providing a cost-effective source of water for campus, it also serves as an important teaching facility for future engineers and water treatment specialists. The Water Plant purifies and distributes 900 million gallons of water annually. Learn more about

Current Water Quality Status for UI Campus

2018 Confidence Report

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Oakdale Energy Plant
Oakdale Utility Power Plant

The Oakdale Utility Power Plant located on the Oakdale Campus/UI Research Park is a trigeneration plant providing electricity, heat, and cooling for facilities such as the Hygienic Lab, Data Center, and the Environmental Management Facility. The existing utility system dates back to the 1960s, however with the construction of major building projects it has been necessary to install new utility infrastructure.

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Utilities Distribution

Electrical, mechanical and meters and controls provide the distribution of campus utilities services across the UI campus.

Mechanical Distribution maintains tunnels and direct-buried piping for steam and condensate, chilled water and domestic water piping, as well as storm and sanitary sewers .The Main Campus steam system operates at 155 psi and 20 psi. The Oakdale Renewable Energy Plant delivers steam at 125 psi.

Electrical Distribution maintains the high voltage substations and distribution lines on campus, providing power to the campus at both Main Campus and Oakdale and seamlessly joins university-generated power with grid power. Peak load at the Main Campus was 66 MW in 2018.  Electrical Distribution also installs and maintains building transformers which step power down from 13.8 kV to lower voltages used by the various buildings.

Meters and Controls assembles, operates, and maintains the independent Utilities Control Network to provide secure control and communications for Utilities operations. The technicians install, calibrate, and read utility meters for commodity billing, and develop and maintain network infrastructure including servers, switches, and PLCs.