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A mighty wind: Southwestern U signs wind-power agreement Staff Reports, Mar 2, 2010
PHOTO COURTESY SOUTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
Through a new agreement, Southwestern becomes the first university in Texas to have all of its power supplied by wind power, from the Southwest Mesa and South Trent Wind Farms in West Texas.
GEORGETOWN, Texas—Southwestern University, a United Methodist-affiliated liberal arts college in Georgetown, Texas, signed an agreement in January that will let the school meet all its electric needs for the next 18 years from wind power.
The agreement makes Southwestern the first university in Texas to have all of its electricity supplied by wind power, and one of fewer than 20 universities in the country to have a totally “green” source of power, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“By taking the bold step to obtaining all of their electricity from wind power, Southwestern University becomes a leader in showing the nation how it can be done,” said Paul Rowland, executive director of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, in a statement issued by Southwestern.
Wind-generated power will be provided by the city of Georgetown through an agreement with AEP Energy Partners, a subsidiary of American Electric Power, and will come from the Southwest Mesa and South Trent Wind Farms in West Texas. These two wind farms have a total of 151 wind turbines, each of which can generate between 0.7 to 2.3 megawatts of electricity. Power is conveyed through transmission lines.
The initial five-year contract is renewable through 2028. Southwestern President Jake B. Schrum said the agreement will help the university toward its long-term goal of being carbon-neutral, which it promised to work toward last February when he signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. This document formally commits campuses to eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions over time and educate students about climate neutrality.
“We hope Southwestern will be an inspiration to other universities to advance sustainability,” Dr. Schrum said, noting that Southwestern students first approached the city with the idea.
In addition to the wind power agreement, Southwestern has undertaken a variety of other sustainability initiatives in the past year:
*The Wilhelmina Cullen Admission Center received Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
*Southwestern will be applying for LEED certification for the new Prothro Center for Lifelong Learning, which opens in March.
*Small compost bins have been placed near all the residence halls and a large compost bin that will handle waste from the cafeteria has been installed north of the greenhouse.
*The student dining area went “trayless” in fall 2009.
*Students, faculty and staff members planted an organic community garden behind the Studio Arts Building.
*Southwestern students organized their third environmental summit for area high school students in 2009.