Public Sector


Oakland University

Oakland University

The Opportunity

OpTerra has been working together with Oakland University in Rochester Hills for over fifteen years, implementing such projects as a natural gas fired turbine, a waste heat turbine that captures and utilizes waste heat to cool off West Campus, and an electrical power circuit to power East Campus. These and other improvements have saved the University over $300,000 annually, and reduced water waste by over ten million gallons annually. Encouraged by its prior successes with OpTerra, Oakland University entered a new phase of development in 2014 which will provide a comprehensive infrastructure solution to meet current and anticipated future load requirements, as well as enhance power reliability.

The Partnership

The most recent phase of work being implemented involves the installation of a 5 MW cogen natural gas driven turbine and a waste heat recovery boiler that captures and utilizes waste heat to heat the University’s High Temp Hot Water System that serves the campus for heating and cooling. This new system will provide flexibility to the University and give them capability to produce their own electrical power for the campus.

In addition to reducing utility costs, the University was also excited to partner with OpTerra on the next phase of work to incorporate educational opportunities into the program implementation as well. Working in partnership with department administration, faculty and staff, and students, OpTerra will also deliver educational enhancements, allowing students to obtain both classroom and field experience in science, technology, energy, and math (STEM). A live dashboard with data from the cogeneration system will be available to students and professors to base classwork around, and the creation of renewable energy internship and job-shadowing programs will support Oakland University’s Clean Energy Research Center.

The Impact

As a result of a long-term partnership with OpTerra, the University is no longer dependent on the electric utility for primary power. The University also has a more reliable power source which will help to eliminate nuisance power outages. With anticipated savings of over $22 million in the next 15 years, Oakland University is primed to better deliver outstanding educational services to their students with more resources that can be redirected from previous energy performance costs.

The Technical Scope

Currently in Development

  • Solar Centaur 50 Gas Turbine package
  • 60 MMBtu/HR Waste Heat Recovery Unit
  • 15 kV Paralleling Switchgear
  • Auxiliary Transformer
  • 480 V MCC for ancillary equipment
  • Black start generator
  • Instrumentation and Controls
  • Fiber Optic Transduce and Multiplexer
  • By-Pass and Exhaust Stacks

Financial Outcome


  • Piping/steam distribution
  • Variable speed chilled water pumping
  • Re-circulate pump cooling water
  • Convert air handlers to VAV
  • Energy efficient motors
  • Vending machine energy controllers
  • Utility procurement management / consulting
  • Energy awareness training