The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) celebrated the completion of a new $50 million electrical power plant on the east side of its Little Rock campus Thursday morning.
The plant is a key component of a $150 million energy project that is expected to be finished in late 2022 and result in an estimated $4.8 million in annual savings. The project is being paid for by a bond issue approved in 2019 by the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.
Standing behind the ribbon as it was cut were Board of Trustees members; local dignitaries; UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson; and UAMS officials involved in the planning and oversight of the project.
“Almost two years ago, many of us here were on this site to mark the start of construction,” Patterson said. “Today we celebrate its early completion. It is estimated that UAMS will see $4.8 million in savings annually from it. Finishing the power plant early means we can start saving earlier, which allows us to save even more. This project is proof of how seriously the university takes its responsibility to be good stewards of the public’s dollars.”
In addition to constructing the new power plant, the energy project includes the replacement of the Barton Building exterior and infrastructure as well as an upgrade to campus building control systems, interior and exterior lighting, electrical and mechanical systems. The new electrical generator plant will provide 100 percent back-up power for the UAMS campus, including the cooling system and research facilities. Currently, the UAMS West Central Energy Plant provides backup power for UAMS inpatient facilities.
The overall energy project is enabling UAMS to address $101 million in maintenance needs and energy efficiency measures. Once completed, UAMS’ energy efficiency ranking will be in the top 1% of all academic medical centers in the United States.
The project also included the rerouting and expansion of Pine Street and the ultimate partial closure of Cedar Street in spring 2022. Much of the new street work is done. The city of Little Rock contributed $4.6 million to the projected $10 million cost of relocation and other street improvements.
“The successful conclusion of this phase of the energy project is tangible evidence of what the city of Little Rock and UAMS has done, is doing and will continue to do together,” said Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. “The challenges we both have faced during the pandemic only have strengthened our ties. We are glad today to join with you in celebrating our collaboration and what it has accomplished.”
In addition to Patterson and Scott, other dignitaries at the ribbon-cutting included UAMS State Rep. Tippi McCullough; State Rep. Ashley Hudson;; Morril Harriman, chairman of the Board of Trustees Building and Grounds Committee; Kelly Eichler, assistant secretary of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees; University of Arkansas System President Donald R. Bobbitt; Beau Blair, chair of the UAMS Board of Advisors; Jay Chessir, president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce; Christina Clark, UAMS chief operating officer; and representatives of CDI Contractors, Arkansas Energy Office and Bernhard Energy.
The team that has worked for the power plant project for the last two years consists of Bernhard, CDI, Clark Contractors, Kirchner Architecture and Clear Energy — all Arkansas companies.