Arsenal moving to natural gas for power

Arsenal moving to natural gas for power

The Rock Island Arsenal announced a $22.4 million deal with Honeywell on Monday to replace its 101-year-old coal-fired central steam plant with natural gas boilers throughout the island.

Officials say the conversion will save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The steam plant, which was built in 1914 and modified over the years, will be replaced with high-efficiency boilers in 30 buildings on the island.

The conversion is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2016. It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20,800 metric tons per year, or equivalent to removing 4,500 cars from the road, Army and company officials say.

Eventually, the old power plant will be demolished, according to the Army.

Arsenal and Honeywell say that when combined with a similar project initiated last year at the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center on the island, energy use will be cut by 35 percent. Water use will be cut by 30 percent, they said.

“Evolving our operation to be more efficient and sustainable not only helps protect the environment, but also the well-being of the community, which we’ve been a part of for more than 150 years,” said Col. Elmer Speights Jr., the Garrison commander.

Honeywell officials say the conversion will help the installation meet and exceed the requirements of a 2012 Environmental Protection Agency rule requiring reduction of coal use or installation of pollution control equipment at plants that burn fossil fuels.

The partnership between the Army and Honeywell is called an Energy Savings Performance Contract, which is authorized by Congress and pairs the government with energy service companies that design efficiency plans and then guarantee savings.

The projects are financed upfront without using government money, and savings, after the expiration of the contract, revert to the government. In this case, the contract is for 15 years.

The changes announced Monday are expected to save $1.7 million per year, said Jay Richter, the energy manager for the garrison’s public works department.

The annual savings at the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center were projected to be $5.3 million.

In early 2014, the JMTC announced a similar partnership with Honeywell in which it said it would move to a natural gas heating system at the 1.5 million-square-foot factory. The change involved installing new fans and natural gas-powered infrared heaters, and most of the work has been completed.

The factory still utilized the steam plant for much of its heating needs last winter, but it expects to be on the new system later this year, said Rhys Fullerlove, a JMTC spokesman.

The upgrades, which were projected to cost $61 million, included changes to the JMTC’s plating system, too. Those are expected to be completed in two years, Fullerlove said.

The JMTC conversion’s reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will be equivalent to taking 6,300 cars off the road, the Army and Honeywell said.

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