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Five firms have submitted bids to finance, build and operate a cogeneration power plant on campus, moving the University one step closer to constructing the long-planned facility, Vice President for Facilities Arthur Gravina said. Gravina said all five firms will come in for interviews to expand on their bids, and declined to release any details. Gravina said the construction on the $100 million power plant may not begin for another two years, and would take about an additional three years before operations began. Administrators requested six firms from around the country to enter bids, and five applied before the October 1 deadline, Gravina said yesterday. Administrators and University Trustees will narrow the list of candidates to two over the next four to six weeks. Gravina said that although they may not be able to work out details with the final candidate by the end of the year, they hope to "be clear and committed to which way we're going." Cogeneration is the simultaneous production of electrical and thermal energy from a single fuel. In the process, energy that would ordinarily be expelled as waste heat is captured and utilized. Gravina said this summer that the plant will have a 60-megawatt electricity production capacity and a 300,000-pound steam production capacity. The University, which would supply the land for the facility, would in turn buy all of its power and steam from the plant. The University is currently dependent on local utility companies for energy. As the crisis in the Middle East continues, the University faces mounting steam costs from Philadelphia Thermal Energy, which will result in at least an additional $1.5 million in costs. But Gravina said the crisis is not a major factor in the administration's consideration of cogeneration. "We're being cautious so as not to be blinded by the current prices of steam in our evaluation of the cogeneration project," Gravina said. The vice president said this summer that the University was spending $30 million per year on utilities from the Philadelphia Electric Company and Philadelphia Thermal. He anticipates that a cogeneration plant would cut between seven and 12 percent of University expenses annually. Beyond the financial considerations, some administrators have said the facility is necessary because Philadelphia Thermal is too unreliable to consistently provide services to the campus. Although the University and Amtrak announced plans to jointly construct a cogeneration plant on Murphy Field in 1985, the two parties announced last year that they would examine pursuing the project individually after they could not agree on the rates the University should pay for use of the energy generated from the plant.

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