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March 2, 2012

MSU ceases coal-fired heating, will buy gas from MUPB

March 2, 2012 —     One of the Morehead Utility Plant Board’s commercial customers is about to buy a lot more natural gas.

    Morehead State University is switching to gas from a coal-fired plant for heating its campus facilities.

    “We will no longer be burning coal,” said Gene Caudill, MSU assistant vice president for facilities management. “We are converting our coal-fired plant to gas.”  

    MSU currently buys a small quantity of gas to run one boiler and is installing two additional gas boilers to gain capacity to heat the entire campus during the winter.

    Caudill said increasing environmental controls imposed on coal-fired plants had forced MSU to make a complete switchover, set for March 20.

    MUPB General Manager Mike Nickell said MSU’s increased usage will put it on par with larger industrial customers.

    Nickell informed the MUPB Board of Directors of MSU’s plans at Tuesday’s regular meeting. 

    In other business, board chair Charles Derrickson appointed board members Porter Dailey, Charles Patrick and Russ Ward to a strategic planning committee to determine the feasibility of conducting comprehensive assessment of the MUPB operations.

    The board also reviewed a final draft of bylaws governing its organization and operation.

    Nickell listed highlights from the general manager’s report, including completion of phase one water and sewer line installation at the airport and continued remodeling of the new maintenance facility on Pleasant Valley Drive. 

    He also reported that a new gas detector, purchased with grant funds, has significantly reduced the time it takes to detect gas leaks. 

    New board member Russ Ward saw the gas detector in action during a recent tour of the maintenance department.

    “This new gas instrument considerably extends the detection range,” said Ward.

    Nickell told the board that it previously took workers six to eight weeks to walk the entire length of gas lines to detect leaks, but the new gas detector reduced the time to two weeks.

    “It would only have taken a week if Larry Lambert hadn’t run around showing everybody ‘look what I’ve got’,” Nickell joked.

    Lambert is the gas crew leader in the maintenance department. Nickell said much of the maintenance crew is enamored with the new device.

    “They were pretty excited about it,” Ward added.

    Noelle Hunter can be reached at or by telephone at 784-4116.

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