Basics of power plant operations subject of new book from University of Oregon

EUGENE, Ore. – (May 8, 2014) – A new book by a power plant supervisor at the University of Oregon aims to provide an introduction to basic power plant topics and terminology. “A Power Plant Primer for District Energy Systems” by Randal Collins serves as an easy-to-follow instructional manual for supervisors, owners, managers, facility engineers, building managers, power plant administrative assistants, energy assistants and other professionals.

“Today’s power plant operators can’t assume prior knowledge in the workforce,” said Chuck Williams, assistant vice president for innovation at the University of Oregon. “This book serves as a comprehensive yet basic resource that can be used on the job by professionals and their supervisors.”

In writing the book, Collins applied his own lessons as operations supervisor of the UO’s Department of Campus Operations to the book. In addition to being responsible for training new hires and young professionals, he oversees the UO’s Central Power Station. The station serves as the distribution point for campus utilities, including electricity, heat, cooling, 60-pound steam, compressed air and natural gas. The plant also oversees a waterway and an intake-and-output operation from the Willamette River.

“A Power Plant Primer” fills a need for instruction among early professionals. Decades ago, co-generation power plants were staffed by Navy veterans who had training in propulsion boilers, turbines and support equipment. Over the years professionals in the field have became more specialized in gas turbines instead of boilers. These workers were trained to use those systems as nuclear power technicians and many chose placements in large utility companies at nuclear plants.

As a result, many co-generation power plants – which focused primarily on providing heating and cooling on a smaller scale – could no longer compete to attract the necessary workers. New hires required training and plants were forced to develop their own instructional tools and on-the-job learning opportunities.

“This book speaks directly to the needs of the industry,” Williams added. “It’s visual, easy-to-use and based on the real-world experiences of a successful power plant operator. It is wonderful to see members of our professional staff like Randal Collins so engaged in helping educate today’s workforce.”

About IPS

The office of Innovation Partnership Services (IPS) supports and assists faculty, students, and staff in developing innovations and businesses, transferring technology into the marketplace, and building mutually beneficial relationships with industry. IPS uses a variety of methods to manage the intellectual property created at UO and support the goals of researchers, educators and innovators. IPS provides both hands-on training and a full range of resources. (

About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Media Contact: Lewis Taylor, (541) 346-2816,

Source: Sari Pascoe, Ph.D., IPS office, 541-346-8943,

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