MU Power Plant History Timeline

  1. 1880s Campus Enrollment: 484
    1. 1883
      • MU on Jan. 10 hosts the first display of incandescent lighting west of the Mississippi River. A 20,000-watt Edison Dynamo that Thomas Edison provided to engineering professor Benjamin Franklin Thomas was set up in the basement of Academic Hall, the first building constructed on the University of Missouri campus.
    2. 1885
    3. 1888
      • Academic Hall was "lighted by electric light, and warmed by steam with the Heine boilers and Bundy radiators," according to an 1888 journal entry.
  2. 1890s Campus Enrollment: 428
    1. 1892
      • An electric overload on Jan. 9 causes a fire that burns Academic Hall to the ground. What appeared to be a tragedy, however, turned out to have a bright side as the fire generated tremendous interest in MU. Money collected from state funds, insurance and donations from Boone county residents allowed for construction of six new buildings around the Columns, forming Francis Quadrangle.
    2. 1893
      • New "power house" constructed on southwest corner of Francis Quadrangle, where Hill Hall now stands.
  3. 1900s Campus Enrollment: 1,038Building Space: 558,568 GSF
    1. 1901
      • Dairy Power House constructed.
    2. 1902
      • Five campus buildings — Dairy Building, Medical Building, Horticulture, Engineering Laboratory and Read Hall — are completely wired for electricity.
    3. 1903
      • Water plant constructed.
    4. 1904
      • Mechanical Engineering professor Arthur M. Green is placed in charge of the power house's Light and Heat Station. Green brought electricity to the entire campus while increasing the size and capability of the power plant.
  4. 1920s Campus Enrollment: 3,260Building Space: 1.3 million GSF
    1. 1921
      • MU Board of Curators approves a $150,000 budget for a larger, up-to-date power plant. The foundation was laid at the northwest corner of Fifth Street and Maple Street, now known as Stewart Road.
    2. 1923
      • New power plant begins producing steam and electricity on Jan. 4 with four boilers and two steam turbines. The boilers could produce 100,000 pounds of steam per hour (pph) and the turbines had an electric production capacity of 900 kW.
  5. 1930s Campus Enrollment: 3,986Building Space: 1.65 million GSF
    1. 1938
      • Upgrades to MU's utility capacity include two deep wells, one rated at 600 gallons/minute (gpm) with a 445,000 gallon reservoir and one rated at 800 gpm with a 280,000 gallon reservoir; Boiler #5, rated at 300psi and 50,000 pph; and Steam Turbine Generator #3, rated at 750kW.
  6. 1940s Campus Enrollment: 5,670Building Space: 2.1 million GSF
    1. 1940
      • Diesel building added to house two 500kW diesel generators.
    2. 1947
      • Boiler #6 installed, rated at 300 psi and 75,000 pph.
    3. 1948
      • Warehouse constructed on Stewart Road.
  7. 1950s Campus Enrollment: 8,756Building Space: 2.8 million GSF
    1. 1956
      • Power plant is expanded to house two chain-grate stoker boilers, each rated at 300 psi and 75,000 pph, and two used Westinghouse steam turbine generators (#4 and #5), rated at 1,500kW, purchased from the Missouri State Penitentiary.
    2. 1959
      • The South Well, rated at 750 gpm with a 560,000 gallon reservior, is placed into service.
  8. 1960s Campus Enrollment: 11,216Building Space: 4.1 million GSF
    1. 1961
      • New 6,000 kW Westinghouse Steam Turbine Generator #6 is installed; turbine generators #1 and #2 are removed.
    2. 1966
      • The Power Plant is enlarged to house Riley spreader-stoker boiler #9, rated at 400 psi and 125,000 pph.
    3. 1967
      • The Southwest Well, rated at 1,100 gpm with a 1 million gallon reservoir, is placed into service.
  9. 1970s Campus Enrollment: 21,687Building Space: 6.6 million GSF
    1. 1974
      • Power Plant upgrades include a Dresser-Rand Turbodyne Steam Turbine-Generator #7, rated at 12,500 kW and a Riley stoker boiler #10, rated at 400 psi and 200,000 pph.
  10. 1980s Campus Enrollment: 24,297Building Space: 7.6 million GSF
    1. 1980
      • Construction begins on two 325-foot concrete stacks and two baghouses for boilers #7, #8, #9 and #10.
    2. 1985
      • Central control room is built. Pneumatic instrument and control system is replaced with digital electronics.
    3. 1986
      • General electric Turbine Generator #8 is placed into service.
  11. 1990s Campus Enrollment: 24,972Building Space: 9.2 million GSF
    1. 1991
      • The North Well, a deep well for potable water, is placed into service with a pumping capacity of 1,000 gpm and a 230,000 gallon reservoir.
    2. 1995
      • Tire-derived fuel (TDF) is successfuly burned in boilers #7 and #8.
      • Boiler #12, a 220,000 pph gas/oil boiler, is added to the Power Plant.
      • MU wins the Green Lights University Partner of the Year award for progress in upgrading lighting and promoting energy efficiency. Through 1996, savings from Green Lights retrofits totaled $800,000.
    3. 1996
      • A new full-capacity, 40MW, 69kV inter-tie is installed, connecting the Power Plant's' utility lines with the City of Columbia's.
    4. 1997
      • MU is selected from among 1,400 participants for the first USEPA's and U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Star Buildings Partner of the Year Award, an honor for excellence in using energy more efficiently, saving money and improving the environment.
    5. 1998
  12. 2000s Campus Enrollment: 23,280Building Space: 11.9 million GSF
    1. 2001
    2. 2002
      • Power Plant Capacity Addition completed. The addition houses two gas turbines and two chillers in a building constructed north of the existing plant.
    3. 2003
    4. 2004
    5. 2006
    6. 2007
    7. 2008
      • recognized by the Missouri Waste Control Coalition with its Outstanding Achievement award in the Government category
    8. 2008
      • Energy Management was recognized by the National Wildlife Federation with the Energy Efficiency award following the National Wildlife Federation's (NWF) national competition, Chill Out: Campus Solutions to Global Warming.
    9. 2010
    10. 2011
      • Began construction on bio-mass boiler.

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  • Portrait of Thomas Edison in 1892

Thomas Edison



  • Image: Edison Dynamo

Edison Dynamo



  • Image: Academic Hall in the late 1880s

Academic Hall







  • Image: Academic Hall on fire

An early mishap?

  • Image: Ivy-covered Columns on Francis Quadrangle

The Columns


  • Image: Old Power House on Francis Quadrangle

Old Power House






  • Image: 1904 Campus Plan

1904 Campus Plan











  • Image: Aerial view of MU in 1910 looking southeast at Francis Quarangle, Jesse Hall and the White Campus in the background

MU in 1910








  • Image: Power Plant under construction

Power Plant under construction



  • Image: Power Plant in 1923

Power Plant in 1923






  • Image: Power Plant under construction

Boiler #5

  • Image: Steam Generator Turbine #3

Steam Turbine Generator #3



  • Image: Power Plant addition to house two diesel generators

Diesel Building addition

  • Image: Boiler #6

Boiler #6

  • Image: Power Plant Warehouse in 1948

Power Plant Warehouse

  • Image: Power Plant addition housing boilers #7 and #8

Boilers #7 & #8

  • Image: Power Plant addition housing turbines #4 and #5

Turbines #4 & #5








  • Image: Steam Turbine Generator #6

Steam Turbine Generator #6

  • Image: Construction for Boiler #9

Boiler #9





  • Image: Steam Turbine Generator #7

Steam Turbine Generator #7

  • Image: Boiler #10

Boiler #10

  • Image: 325-foot concrete stack

Concrete stack

  • Image: South Baghouse under construction

South Baghouse

  • Image: General Electric Turbine Generator #8

Turbine Generator #8

  • Image: Model of circulating fluidized bed boiler

Fluidized bed boiler




  • Image: Front-end loader scooping up TDF mixture

Tire-Derived Fuel

  • Image: 1995 Power Plant renovation construction

1995 Power Plant renovation

  • Image: Installation of Boiler #12

Boiler #12

  • Image: Green Lights Partner of the Year award

Green Lights Award

  • Image: Crane moving inter-tie into place

Inter-tie installation

  • Image: 1997 Energy Star Buildings Partner of the Year award

Energy Star Buildings

  • Image: Energy Management director Paul Hoemann poses with former Assistant Vice-Chancellor – Facilities Alan Warden and former Missouri governor Mel Carnahan

1998 Governor's Awards



  • Image: 2001 Energy Star Partner of the Year award

Energy Star Partner

  • Image: 2002 Power Plant addition

2002 Power Plant addition








  • Image: Energy Management director Paul Hoemann accepts the International District Energy Association's System of the Year award from Joel Green, 2003-2004 IDEA chairman.

2004 IDEA award


  • Image: Shredded corncobs.

Biomass for fuel

Photos courtesy U.S. National Park Service/Edison National Historic Site; UM Digital Library/Boone County Historical Society/Westhoff Collection; and University Archives.