Traffic to be affected by massive generator arriving at UF Health

UPDATE: The generator is now tentatively scheduled to start moving through Gainesville to the UF Health site after 9 a.m. Thursday (Aug. 25).

A massive new generator that will provide uninterrupted electrical power to facilities on the south side of the University of Florida Health medical complex is scheduled to arrive Thursday (Aug. 25).

Due to its size, delivery of the generator to the Gainesville Regional Utility’s South Energy Center on 13th Street Southwest near the UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital will affect traffic in parts of the city beginning Thursday morning.

The generator’s capacity assures that all UF Health facilities on the south side of Southwest Archer Road will have a continuous power supply. “Along with an existing unit, this new generator will keep the entire south campus at full power regardless of any power outages in the surrounding community,” said Brad Pollitt, vice president of facilities for UF Health.

The 10,000-horsepower generator can produce up to eight megawatts of electricity. When paired with the current 4 1/2-megawatt generator, the South Energy Center will be capable of providing all of the electric power, hot water and steam required at the UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital and the UF Health Shands Critical Care Center as well as the UF Health Heart & Vascular Hospital and the UF Health Neuromedicine Hospital that are under construction.

Pollitt said the generators at the South Energy Center essentially function as a self-contained power plant, which gives it a significant advantage over traditional “standby” generators. Because the Energy Center operates continuously, there is no lag in electrical service if the rest of the electrical grid has an outage.

The new generator’s size — 38 feet long, 11 feet wide and 14 feet high — requires a specially designed, 12-axle truck with 96 tires to haul the 270,000-pound unit from a rail stop in north Gainesville. Beginning Wednesday morning, the generator will be hauled along this route through Gainesville: From the 3300 block of Northeast Second Street, it will head north on North Main Street, east on Northeast 39th Avenue, south on Waldo Road, then west on Southeast 16th Avenue to Southwest 14th Street. It is expected to arrive at the South Energy Center Thursday afternoon or evening.

The new equipment makes GRU’s facility one of the most modern and energy efficient in the country, said Chuck Heidt, project manager for the South Energy Center.

“This generator will provide enough electric, steam and hot water to ensure that even during a major storm, the southern part of the UF Health campus will have all of the energy it needs to provide uninterrupted quality health care to our community,” he said.

In addition to providing a reliable source of power, UF’s Pollitt said the South Energy Center runs on natural gas, which is environmentally friendlier than electricity produced by a coal-fired power plant. The facility also offers increased energy efficiency compared with conventional generation plants and produces substantial energy savings for UF Health by capturing “waste” heat from the generators and using it to produce hot water and help power air conditioning, Pollitt said.

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Doug Bennett

Science Writer, Editor

Doug Bennett joined the UF Health staff in January 2015 as a science writer and editor. His topic areas include anatomy; biochemistry and molecular biology; molecular genetics and microbiology; pathology,...Read More