With its four massive boilers, the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune main steam plant used to serve as the primary source of heat and hot water for barracks, administrative buildings and mess halls for more than 74 years.
The raucous symphony of mechanical noises that once permeated the plant have all but silenced since its decommissioning in April 2017, but the history still stands – at least for a little while longer.
The three-story high plant is scheduled to be removed in February as part of the decentralization of steam plants on base.
“The original project to decommission the steam plant and to also transition to natural gas fired boilers, was in an effort to reduce our energy intensity goals,” said Andrew Smith, utilities director for electrical distribution and steam generation systems on MCB Camp Lejeune. “We were able to reduce the thresholds by about 40 percent from the baseline about 10 years ago.”
Like a well-oiled machine, the plant operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week for over seven decades with the exception of annual summer cleanings, spanning just 72 hours in July or August of each year when steam demand was minimal.
“Originally we had five steam plants that served over 548 buildings across the installation,” said Amanda Renjifo, installation energy manager for MCB Camp Lejeune. “We had about 50 miles of steam and condensate lines that spanned the base. For a long time the plant served its purpose very well.”
After the plant’s decommissioning, there was an investment of more than $150 million in individual facility boilers, natural gas fired equipment and alternative energy sources. The project dramatically lowered the installation's energy intensity, reduced fuel costs by roughly 30 percent and significantly reduced MCB Camp Lejeune's environmental impact with respect to energy consumption.
“The decentralization of the plant has reduced our greenhouse gases by 69,000 tons a year, caused an overall reduction of our energy use by 50 percent and has saved 87 million gallons of water,” said Renjifo.