WWU 12th on EPA green energy list of Top 20 higher education purchasers of renewable power

Students walk across campus in this mid-November photo from 2007. File photo by Matthew Anderson | WWU

Western Today staff

Western Washington University is 12th on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the nation’s top 20 green energy purchasers in higher education.

Western annually purchases 100 percent of its electrical energy from green sources via renewable energy credits.

Western was the only college or university in the State of Washington on the recently released EPA list, which represents the largest purchasers among higher education institutions as of Oct. 5, 2010.

The genesis for Western’s renewable energy program began more than five years ago when a small group of Western students set a goal of having Western obtain all of its electrical energy from a 100-percent renewable source. To meet that goal they proposed a student initiative to implement a fee that would offset the cost of purchasing renewable energy.

As a result of their efforts and significant research into renewable energy, Western moved to the forefront of the renewable energy field, becoming the first university in the country to implement a student fee to offset 100 percent of electrical energy use with the purchase of green energy

The student initiative passed in a spring 2004 election with 84.7 percent approval. The WWU Board of Trustees approved the student fee, which went into effect in 2005 and which allows the university to offset all of its electricity use with purchases from renewable energy sources.

In spring 2010, the WWU student body voted overwhelmingly – more than 80 percent in favor – to renew the Green Energy Fee. In addition to funding the purchase of the renewable energy credits – 100 percent of WWU’s power now comes from the Endeavor Wind Farm in Iowa – the new fee on students also finances student projects devoted to increasing energy efficiency, decreasing energy consumption, generating renewable energy, and reducing greenhouse-gas output on WWU’s campus, as well as allowing for the creation of a student position within WWU’s Associated Students that will be tasked with overseeing the fee’s programs.

The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary EPA program that seeks to increase the use of green power among leading U.S. organizations. These green power purchases help reduce the environmental impacts of electricity use and support the development of new renewable generation capacity nationwide. Purchase amounts reflect U.S. operations only and are sourced from U.S.-based green power resources. Organizations can meet EPA purchase requirements using any combination of three different product options (1) Renewable Energy Certificates, (2) On-site generation, and (3) Utility green power products.

Green power is defined by the partnership as electricity products that are partially or entirely generated from environmentally preferable resources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, and low-impact biomass and hydro resources. For more information see EPA’s website on the Top 20 College and University Partners list.