University of South Carolina demanding refund from builder of its US$20M wood-chip biomass power project, which university shut down in March after delays, accidents; plant produced steam on only 98 out of 534 days in one two-year period

COLUMBIA, South Carolina , October 10, 2011 () – A nearly $20 million project to generate power for the University of South Carolina's Columbia campus from scrap wood chips is disappointing its backers as the university pursues a refund from the supplier.

The State newspaper reported Sunday ( the biomass-power project was supposed to save energy as the school updated its inefficient energy system.

University documents the newspaper obtained through a public-records request describe planning, delays, and three accidents that could have been lethal to passersby.

The plant only provided steam on 98 out of 534 days in one 2-year period.

The university closed the power plant in March and is demanding a refund from the builder, Wisconsin-based Johnson Controls Inc. The school's contract should allow it to recoup the $20 million by 2020.

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