to run a good-sized town.
There are other power plants in Boston, mostnotably Boston Edison's, but none which produce"total energy" -- chilled water, steam andelectricity--at the same time.
MATEP's cogeneration, principally its recaptureof hot exhaust form the diesel engines, allows itto produce 30 percent more energy perequivalentgallon of oil than normal electric power plants.
Nationally, the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota has asimilar plant, although it is smaller thanHarvard's .
MATEP itself is a very profitable endeavor. Ittakes in about $48 million a year from its ratepayers, about $10 million of which constituteprofits, a MATEP official says.
It is run by the Congeneration ManagementCompany (CMC), which is a wholly owned subsidiaryof the University.
Power Plant Output
Each hour, the plant produces 62 megawatts ofelectricity, 900,000 pounds of steam and 24,900tons of chilled water.
That adds up to over 225 million kilowatt-hoursof electricity, over one billion pounds of steam,and 45 million ton-hours of refrigeration eachyear.
The generators, cooling towers, chillers andboilers are neatly aligned in arrays in thethree-story building, all run from a large controlroom which has hundreds of panels and monitoringstations.
Not damaging the environment was a principalconcern for MATEP's designers and its currentmanagement. In accordance with regulations, theplant maintains remote monitoring stations--one ison Route 9 in Brookline and another is at theDeaconess Hospital. If levels of nitrous oxide inthe air rise and the wind is blowing from theplant, the diesel generators are powered down.
The plant has double windows, so thatpedestrians on the street cannot hear the dieselgenerators, which are so loud that ear protectionis required inside.
As at any power plant, security is an issue,and all visitors are escorted by security guardsand must be signed in and out by authorizedpersonnel.
Oil deliveries to the plant occur at night andtake place at an interior loading bay, soneighbors are not disturbed.
The building was designed to look likeneighboring hospitals and office towers, soadministrative offices with windows are at thefront, and there is a brick exterior at groundlevel. Some people actually wander inside theplant thinking it is Brigham & Women's Hospital,which is across the Street, MATEP officials says.
Neighbors actively tried to block the plant'sconstruction and operation a decade ago, but therehave been few complaints in recent years, saysDonald S. Yeaple, CMC's vice president and generalmanager.
The Massachusetts Department of EnvironmentalProtection announced its intention to approve theentire MATEP Facility in 1977, but disapproved thediesel electric generation portion in 1978 becauseof concerns about the health effects of nitogendioxide emissions.
Harvard appealed the 1978 decision, requestinga formal adjudicatory review of the diesel impact,which included 186 hours of oral testimony andhundreds of pages of written testimony from expertwitnesses to produce some 7,300 pages oftranscript and documents.
The Department disapproved the dieselgeneration again in 1979 but established criteriaunder which they could be approved, which Harvardeventually resolved.
Full operation began only in 1986, almost adecade after the Department's initial intent toapprove.
MATEP's delayed construction and operation madethe plant cost six or seven times what Harvardexpected, Coolidge professor of History David S.Landes says.
Today, some at Harvard question whether theUniversity should be in the power business.
Yeaple acknowledges their concerns, but saysthat MATEP is a more reliable source of powerthan a publicly-owned utility.
MATEP has provided uninterrupted electricservice for at least four years, Yeaple says.
As the CMC promotional video says, if the powergoes out in an operating room or intensive careward, the consequences would be dire.
CMC employees take pride in the service theyprovide, and say that they think about the peopleat the hospitals they are providing electricity,chilled water and steam for.
"We have to remember that we're helping people,not just buildings," says Judith R. Della Barba,manager of administration.
Along with providing reliable service, CMC isable to charge Boston Edison's rates because it isgiven a large discount on the fuel it buys.
The University can use MATEP'S profits forother projects or can repay MATEP's debt, whichnow stands at $100 million, a MATEP official said.
Although MATEP does profit about $10 million ayear, it will still take many years for CMC to payoff its accumulated debt and fund all its capitalprojects.
MATEP's board of directors has seven members,all Harvard-affiliated, including Yeaple, VicePresident for Administration Sally N. Zeckhauser,Vice President of Finance Alan J. Proctor '74 andVice President and General Counsel Margaret H.Marshall.
In the Energy Business ?
The board, which meets once a year, has notrecently discussed whether Harvard should be inthe energy business, but Yeaple says that it maydo so at its next meeting, due to the recentcontroversy over MATEP brought up by Landes atmeetings of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Landes had charged that the University'sCentral Administration decided to build MATEPwithout consulting FAS professors, and that theresulting plant was a $500 million fiasco.
Yet there is evidence that MATEP made sense atthe time it was built: rather than construction ahalf dozen plants, the University decided to buildone and reap the benefits of the economics ofscale.
"It was obviously from a monetary point of viewa bad idea," Landes says.
"Not particularly in advance of the plan, butin view of the political complications," he adds.
MATEP ended up consuming all of Harvard'stax-free bond allowances from the state, Landessays, resulting in a "financial disaster."
MATEP's decade-long hearings and petition toproduce diesel electric energy caused it to losemoney for a protracted period of time, but theplant may eventually pay for itself, given enoughtime.
"You reckon about 20 years for a power plant topay itself back," Yeaple says.
Landes takes greatest issue with the fact thatHarvard's Central Administration--not the Medical,Dental and Public Health schools--paid for MATEP.
"The Faculty of Arts and Sciences gets nothingfrom MATEP," Landes said. "Yet we paid the mostfor it."
Landes lists MATEP along with the constructionof the Harvard Inn and the high rental fees theCentral Administration pays for Holyoke Center asprime examples of the administration paying forprojects without consulting its faculties.
Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles recentlyestablished the Committee on University Resources,a group of FAS professors charged with examiningany large-budget projects that the CentralAdministration or FAS may undertake.CrimsonJonathan A. LewinA MATEP officials study energy controls.