$188 Million Boiler Replacement Project Keeps University of Wisconsin Warm
Elections can throw curveballs at any institutional facility funded with public money. What the previous regime provided in terms of money and support for an ambitious project, the incoming administration might take away by adopting a new budget and forging ahead with a different agenda.
The managers and staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) physical plant department know this all too well. During the fall of 2010, work started on a $250 million dollar upgrade to convert the university's coal-powered Charter Street heating plant into a natural gas and biomass plant. Replacing the existing boilers was a significant part of the project. But the project scope changed in 2011 when the biomass portion of the project became a budget casualty as the state's political landscape changed.
Though the final pricetag was $188 million, the scope remained impressive. It was one of the largest state-funded projects in history, resulting in the university saving $1.5 million a year in energy costs.