Coe, St. Luke’s plan grand opening of new steam plant

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8605 or

Whitney Frost, Media Relations Specialist, St. Luke’s Hospital
(319) 369-8759 or

2010-08-30 14:05:22 - General

Coe College and St. Luke's Hospital have scheduled a ribbon cutting and open house to commemorate the opening of their new shared steam production plant. The event will be held at the steam plant, located on the northeastern corner of the St. Luke's campus and across Coe Road from Murray Hall on the Coe campus, on Tuesday, Sept. 7, beginning at 10 a.m. Following a brief ceremony, tours of the steam plant will be available until 12:30 p.m.

Speakers will include Bob Cecil, recently retired Economic Development Administration official, Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett, St. Luke's President and CEO Ted Townsend, and Coe President James Phifer.

The $4.65 million project was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) funds provided to help the city recover from the 2008 flood. The grant was facilitated by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), who is a senior member of the Senate panel that funds economic development projects.

Following the flood and the subsequent shutdown of the Alliant Energy steam system, steam was generated using expensive temporary boilers on each campus. Soon after the disaster, St. Luke's and Coe College formed a partnership to find a permanent, cost-effective, high-efficiency, reliable and environmentally superior solution for hot water and heating needs. As a result of working together, the two institutions have developed a solution for essential steam production, ultimately benefiting the constituencies of both organizations for the foreseeable future.

Approximately two-thirds of the steam from the plant will be used by St. Luke's, with one-third used by Coe. While primarily powered by natural gas, the new plant is able to run on diesel fuel as a backup to provide redundancy.

The new joint steam facility will ensure both St. Luke's and Coe have an affordable source of energy to keep long-term costs as low as possible.Over the past two years, the two institutions were first on the Alliant temporary system, then switched to their own temporary boilers. On the temporary boiler systems, Coe paid approximately $925,000 more annually for steam than in pre-flood years. St. Luke's costs were around $1.7 million per year higher annually compared with pre-flood costs. Going forward, Coe is projected to pay approximately $600,000 per year for steam, while the cost for St. Luke's will be around $1 million - all dependent upon natural gas cost fluctuations.

This project is a USGBC or "LEED" project, which means it's registered with the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED projects encourage and accelerate global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices. Prior to the 2008 flood, the Alliant Energy steam plant served Coe and St. Luke's, and was primarily fueled by coal. The transition from coal to natural gas generated steam will result in an overall reduction in the carbon footprint of the two institutions by 15 to 20 percent.

Both St. Luke's and Coe have served the community and the region for more than 125 years with medical services and educational programs, respectively.