Powering Kent State


Shane Flanigan

Peter Latkovic, university power plant manager, walks through the main switchgear room of Kent State’s power plant located on Ted Boyd Drive across from the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. The facility’s generators produce 13 megawatts of electricity, which is distributed throughout the campus. Photo by SHANE FLANIGAN.

Rachel Sluss

All one could hear in the stark, florescent-lit room of Kent State’s Power Plant was Peter Latkovic, power plant manager, going over a handout with a simplistic explanation of how the plant operates.

In short, Latkovic explained the power plant is designed as a two-stage, combined heat and power project. The plant’s steam production provides heat and cooling to buildings on campus through a loop. Power and steam are obvious needs at Kent State; however, steam is an especially efficient source because the campus uses it year round.

“The plant provides steam, chilled water and electricity to most of the campus,” said Frank Renovich, assistant director of energy. “There are some areas that generate their own heat. Some generate their own cooling.”

Melanie Knowles, manager of sustainability, said the Power Plant’s combined two-stage heat and power system produces power more efficiently than a conventional power plant.

“Conventional power plants release steam into the air,” Knowles said. “Our power plant captures steam and uses it in other places that need it. It’s more efficient in its production of power. That’s the critical thing about it.”

Renovich said the plant provides almost all of the steam, a portion of the chilled water and 50 percent or more of electricity on a yearly basis.

“We have a computerized system that can monitor and control things with a click of a mouse,” said Latkovic. “If we have an issue, which rarely happens, we can pull up anything on the computers.”

Kent State’s Power Plant is state of the art in terms of technology. Latkovic said workers on computers have the ability to control power in buildings and rooms on campus from inside the plant.

“Often times, they’re sent a schedule,” Latkovic says. “Let’s say there is a class in Room 105 from time to time. We make sure everything is right. The power will be on when the class comes in, the temperature will be at the right setting, and they will turn the lights off when the class has concluded. It saves energy.”

Energy management technicians pay attention to these details to reduce the amount of power.

The buildings that require more power are especially important to keep track of. Latkovic pointed out the university library and the M.A.C. Center as buildings with a need for a lot of power.

“In general, any building that has a lot of laboratories or high-intensive equipment has a lot of air changes for safety reasons,” Renovich said. “These will be more expensive than a building that does not have that equipment. No equipment means fewer changes in the air. For instance, science buildings would use more power per square foot than an administrative office.”

According Renovich, there are several energy conservation programs taking place on campus, along with the careful work the power plant employees do to save energy.

“There is an ongoing energy conservation process,” Renovich said. “House Bill 251’s directive is to reduce energy. There is a 25 percent reduction from the baseline in 2004 to what we [will] use in 2014.”

Ohio House Bill 251 is an advanced energy law that was created in 2007. The bill strives to make Ohio a leader in energy efficiency by expanding clean energy.

Kent State uses other forms of energy as well. Solar energy is currently used at the Field House. There are plans for more solar paneling in several different locations on campus. Wind energy was considered at one point for Kent State’s regional campuses, but the economic return was not there.

There are some buildings that are already greener than others at Kent State, especially those going through energy renovations. Harbourt Hall is certified in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED.

“Harbourt Hall is LEED gold rated,” Bob Misbrener, project manager in the office of the University Architect, said. “We were originally shooting for a silver rating but made the gold.”

Misbrener said Kent State is striving to get Heer Hall and the College of Architecture and Environmental Design LEED certified as well.

“We’re hoping the College of Architecture and Environmental Design qualifies as platinum LEED certified rating,” Misbrener said. “That’s the highest LEED certified rating.”

Many improvements are in progress on campus, and past improvements are affecting Kent State positively today. For instance, 13 residence hall buildings on campus underwent huge improvements in terms of energy conservation.

The project retrofitted nearly every single light fixture in the buildings in order to conserve energy. Some rooms had few controls already, but the energy conservation project allowed Intelligent Room Automation Systems in rooms instead. These systems sense temperature, occupancy, window function and plug-in devices.

“Environmental efficiency works with economical points as well,” Misbrener said. “The more efficient, the less money spent. We’re striving to be more efficient and aware of the environment.”

For more on Kent State’s power, click here.

Contact Rachel Sluss at [email protected] .