University Power Plant

UI Main Energy Plant

UI Energy Production and Distribution



The University focuses on reliable energy in order to produce the most efficient and environmental-friendly facilities. Our plants provide the same energy to the University as it would take to power 35,000 homes. These plants offer significant reliability for a hospital that admits over 32,000 patients annually, providing backup in any grid failure.



production at our plants

Main Power Plant

The UI main Power Plant is a combined heat and power (CHP) facility. It provides steam for heating, cooling, and sterilization to buildings as well as providing energy security for all UI campus facilities.The combined heat and power plant provides about 25% of the University's electric power needs and nearly all of the heating needs. The current plant began operation in 1927 and burned about 30 thousand tons of coal a year. Today, the main Power Plant burns coal, oat hulls, wood chips, miscanthus grass and natural gas.

Path to Zero Coal by 2025

Power Plant brochure



Chilled Water Plants

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.


Water Plant


The University 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.




Oakdale Energy Plant (OREP)


The Oakdale Renewable Energy Plant (OREP) is a series of projects to demonstrate multiple technologies using locally available renewable fuel sources, to meet the energy needs at the UI/Oakdale Research Park. Oakdale 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 1960's, however with the construction of major building projects it has been necessary to install new utility infrastructure.







Distribution Systems

Distribution Systems

Mechanical Distribution maintains all of the university's steam, chilled water, domestic water and over 200,000 feet of storm and sanitary sewer piping.The Main Campus steam system operates at 155 psi and 20 psi. The Oakdale Renewable Energy Plant delivers steam at 125 psi. All three systems contain over 140,000 feet of steam and condensate return pipe ranging in size from 1 to 24 inches. Most of the steam and condensate return pipes on the Main Campus are in steam tunnels. Mechanical Distribution maintains nearly six miles of tunnels.

In addition to these systems, Electrical Distribution maintains the high voltage substations and distribution lines on campus, providing power to the buildings. Meters and Controls assembles, operates, and maintains the Utilities Network for secure control and communications, and installs, calibrates, and reads utility meters for billing.

Purchased Energy

The UI's Energy Production System is a Combined Heat and Power System that produces all campus steam energy and about 20% of the electric power used on campus. The UI's purchased energy comes from several sources. Purchased Energy

*University of Iowa statement on coal ash displacement