HANOVER — Dartmouth College representatives are set to meet with the Planning Board next week to begin discussions on where the school’s new $200 million power plant will be built.
The school changing its current steam power plant to a forced hot water system. The steam plant is between the Hanover Inn and the Hopkins Center for the Arts in downtown Hanover.
As part of the change, according to Dartmouth’s Josh Keniston, vice president and chief of staff to Executive Vice President Rick Mills, the school will stop using oil to power the plant and switch to a renewable biomass fuel system.
The current plant dates to 1898 and, while it have been upgraded over the years, some parts of the plant need to be replaced, Keniston said.
“A lot of the pipes in the plant are aging and nearing the end of their useful life,” he said.
The plant heats 120 Dartmouth buildings, more than 5 million square feet of space.
“It’s no small task,” Keniston said.
The school burns about 3.5 million gallons of No. 6 fuel oil every year to heat the buildings. Aside from the financial cost, the non-renewable heat source also carries an environmental burden the school wants to address.
In 2017, President Phil Hanlon pledged to reduce Dartmouth’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050. This new plant will reduce greenhouse gas emission by 70 percent by 2025, far exceeding Hanlon’s pledge.
That dramatic reduction is largely attributed to switching from oil to biomass. In this case, the school will use a solid biomass derived from wood waste from the forest and timber industries to provide the heat.
The plant will also burn liquid biofuel on the coldest of days of the year, when the wood biomass system cannot meet Dartmouth’s energy needs. Liquid biofuel can be made from materials such as vegetable and other oils, animal fat and soybeans, according to information provided by Dartmouth.