Largest Purchase of Wind Power by Any U.S. University Makes NYU Largest Wind Energy Purchaser in NYC and 11th Nationally

The Fenner Windpower Project, Town of Fenner, Madison County, New York
The Fenner Windpower Project, Town of Fenner, Madison County, New York

Largest Purchase of Wind Power by Any U.S. University Makes NYU Largest Wind Energy Purchaser in NYC and 11th Nationally

New York University today announced that it would purchase some 118,000,000 KWh of wind power, an amount equivalent to the power that the University purchases annually from Con Edison. It will be the largest purchase of wind power by any U.S. college or university, according to the EPA’s Green Power Partnership Program, the largest purchase of wind power by any institution in New York City, and the 11th largest purchase nationally.

The decision to purchase wind power, which was announced today by Michael Alfano, NYU’s executive vice president, is part of a broader sustainability initiative - to be called the NYU Green Action Plan (GAP) - that he unveiled at today’s meeting of the NYU University Senate.

NYU President John Sexton said, “Last month, I participated in the Clinton Global Initiative conference here in New York, where global warming was a key issue under discussion. It was a sobering dialogue, one that has caused me to think even more deeply about what role universities in general, and NYU in particular, should play in addressing the great challenges of our time, from climate change to extremist violence to poverty. The full nature of those responsibilities will only emerge, I believe, out of a long discussion on our campus involving students, faculty, and administrators. But, in the meantime, this decision - which will lead to more electricity being added to the grid from clean sources, rather than from fossil fuel sources - is an important step for our campus to take.”

Dr. Alfano said, “We are all familiar with the increasing pressures from the burning of fossil fuels that risk our health, compromise our national security, and imperil the planet. This purchase of renewable energy, our pursuit of greater conservation, and the promise of a more sustainable campus are institutional responsibilities, consistent with our community’s values and made more relevant by the Mayor’s recent announcement of an ambitious environmental agenda for New York City, of which NYU wants to be a part. Cities and universities share an important characteristic - they are the places that draw in mankind to confront, contemplate, and address our most pressing challenges. It is in that spirit that we take this step.”

Among the other initiatives completed, underway, or under consideration are:

  • The creation and filling of a new position, Assistant Vice President for Energy, Engineering & Technical Services. John Bradley was hired in June, 2006 to develop and implement a comprehensive energy strategy that includes cogeneration and alternative energy sources, operation of the University’s cogeneration plant, identification and implementation of energy conservation projects, and development of engineering standards for NYU’s facilities that will improve their energy efficiency and infrastructure reliability
  • NYU’s joining the U.S. Green Buildings Council, which will enable the University to access “best practices” for green building design and incorporate those ideas into strategic planning
  • The establishment of a new environmental studies major
  • Reviewing proposals for NYU’s co-generation plant to increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions significantly below EPA standards
  • Reviewing sites for additional bike racks around campus to encourage bicycle commuting
  • The hiring of new employees to expand NYU’s recycling program (NYU currently recycles up to 30 percent of its waste stream)

Having evaluated proposals from three “green energy” partners, the University expects to go forward with an agreement to purchase wind power through Community Energy, Inc., which has had significant experience with other universities and large institutions. NYU’s purchase of wind power will enable the generation and addition to the electrical grid of renewable, clean energy in an amount equivalent to that currently purchased by the University from hydrocarbon fuel-based electricity generators. This offset is achieved through the purchase of “renewable energy credits” from wind power producers. The University will purchase a mix of nationally generated and locally generated wind energy.

As part of the NYU-GAP initiative, Dr. Alfano named Lynne Brown, senior vice president for University relations and public affairs, and Alison Leary, vice president for facilities and construction management, to lead a University-wide Task Force on Sustainability. The task force - which will be composed of students, faculty, and administrators - will bring forward ideas, mobilize the community, and help develop a realistic set of goals to enable NYU to move forward its sustainability initiative.

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