Idled, US$20M woodchip biomass plant at University of South Carolina needs to be reconfigured to be up and running, bring promised savings of US$2.1M a year

LOS ANGELES , November 1, 2011 () – A 19,000 sq. ft. woodchip-gasification biomass plant at the University of South Carolina (USC) has failed repeatedly to provide the promised 75% of campus steam needs, currently sits idle, and needs to be reconfigured to work, said a university official on Monday, The Daily Gamecock reported Oct. 31.

The USC plant in Columbia, South Carolina, was predicted to produce sustainable heat and electricity on assumptions of volume and input that just would not work, said the university's CFO Ed Walton. The plant was the site of a near-lethal accident and has been shut down considerable amounts of time.

In the near future, USC officials and Johnson Controls Inc. representatives will consider options for the plant, The Daily Gamecock reported.

USC invested about US$20 million in the next-generation biomass plant. Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Johnson Controls guaranteed that USC would receive $2.1 million savings in energy or cash each year for 11 more years, The Daily Gamecock reported.

Johnson Controls has been paying USC the amount the institution did not save, has already paid the university $4.3 million and is expected to pay another $2.1 million soon.

Walton said he thinks Johnson Controls, which is not contesting the make-up payments, will likely want to do something about the biomass plant. The university also would not want to leave the plant idle, Walton added.

The primary source of this article is The Daily Gamecock, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, on Oct. 31, 2011.

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