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Microgrid O&M solutions for the headquarters and research campus of a global biotechnology company

The central cogeneration plant produces electricity and steam that serves a 6-building campus with over 1.1 million square feet of laboratory, research and office space. As the operations and maintenance (O&M) provider of the central plant, Vicinity has helped the client develop an electrical load shed scheme to accommodate any unplanned outages and prioritize critical loads in research space, while also helping to significantly reduce the campus’ utility expenses and carbon footprint.


During the plant’s development, Vicinity helped manage the construction and commissioning of a 5.3 megawatt (MW) combined heat and power (CHP) plant for a major biotechnology company and is serving as its operator under a long-term agreement. Since the beginning of the O&M contract in 2006, Vicinity has continued to deliver exceptional operating reliability and achieved significant savings from fuel and water efficiencies. In the event of a electrical grid outage, the CHP plant provides a continuous source of thermal energy and electricity in support of vital biotechnology research.


As a global leader in research and development of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and multiple sclerosis therapies, a biotechnology company in Cambridge Massachusetts required an energy solution and alternative to the high cost and poor reliability of its existing utility services. Its existing campus thermal energy system was subject to a single point of failure, putting its life-saving research at risk. With this in mind, the company selected Vicinity to develop a reliable and resilient energy solution that would support its long-term growth and critical operations.


Vicinity analyzed the options and recommended a 5.3 MW CHP solution to meet the needs of the pharmaceutical company’s world headquarters and research campus. Vicinity experts were involved at all stages of the project, including feasibility and business plan development, equipment selection, negotiation for grid interconnection, fuel supply provisioning, and environmental permitting and commissioning.

Running silently a sub-level below the Cambridge campus, the CHP plant supplies six buildings with electricity and five with high pressure steam in support of its vital research processes. In addition, Vicinity’s Cambridge steam network supplies the campus with back-up thermal service. Along with ongoing operations and maintenance, Vicinity also provides external support services for the campus, including maintenance of steam and electrical equipment within campus buildings and manholes.


Today, Vicinity provides O&M services to the biotechnology campus with a five- member onsite team, ensuring reliability, safety and efficiency by applying industry standards and best practices. Under this contract, Vicinity is required to maintain a minimum availability of at least 97 percent (with financial penalties assessed should availability fall below that minimum) and has been successful in meeting these performance standards throughout a nearly 15-year operating history.

The CHP plant provides the owner with reliable, sustainable and cost-effective energy across its campus. As a result, the campus has reduced carbon emissions by approximately 36,000 metric tons per year and its annual energy consumption by 25 percent. Vicinity has also generated significant additional annual savings for the campus through the implementation of several plant optimizations.