Go Green! Michigan State University and the Green Substation

New Green substation to deliver constant 18 MW of power to new Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.

It takes a lot of energy to send high-powered beams at the speed of light.

Just ask Dr. Wolfgang Bauer of Michigan State University (MSU), where construction of the new Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, otherwise known as the “FRIB,” is underway. The new facility will require a constant 18 MW of power at least nine months out of the year. That constitutes 50% of average campus demand.

When the Department of Energy awarded MSU the $730 million FRIB project in 2008, Dr. Bauer, University Distinguished Professor and Senior Consultant for the Office of the Executive Vice President for Administrative Services, began evaluating the university’s current and future energy needs. He knew he would need to look beyond its current self-generating capabilities to add capacity for the FRIB and the university’s growing research endeavors.

“We really need constant electric power and the security that comes with that on our campus all the time without exception. Just one outage and we can lose 30 years of research,” says Dr. Bauer. “Now our power needs are changing in an essential way, largely because of the FRIB.”

MSU reached an agreement with Consumers Energy to provide the additional capacity, which called for a new interconnection with ITC’s Michigan Electric Transmission System (METC). The proposed connection with METC’s College Substation however presented some challenges, as the expansion of the substation would have been costly and difficult. MSU and ITC agreed on a different solution: build a new station named Green approximately a mile west of the existing station.

The new location meant that one less mile of underground ductwork would be needed to connect to the station, resulting in significant savings for the university. “Knowing what a mile of underground duct bank would cost, I estimate that saved $2 million in overall construction cost,” says Dr. Bauer. “ITC readily agreed to help MSU save money for our tuition-paying parents and the Michigan taxpayer.”

Construction of the Green substation began in the summer of 2016. It was placed into service on September 30. An accelerated construction timeframe helped the university meet key milestones associated with the FRIB project.

Scheduled for completion in 2022, the FRIB will enable scientists to make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes to advance knowledge in nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions of nuclei, and applications of rare isotopes. The creation of new isotopes has implications for industries ranging from medical imaging to national defense.

Says Dr. Bauer, “ITC really contributed to this project being the great success that it is.”