As recently as 2000, Oberlin’s energy consumption released approximately 17 tons of carbon dioxide per student into the atmosphere per year.
Not anymore. A new agreement with the city of Oberlin and a local utility company commits the College to purchase “green energy” - approximately 13,000 mega watt hours (MWh) per year. This translates to a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions annually.
“Oberlin will be meeting more than half of its annual power consumption with green energy,” says Steve Dupee, director of the Oberlin Municipal Light and Power System (OMLPS), provider of the green energy. “We feel it is a win-win situation. The city of Oberlin will use the money supplied by the sale to increase its own sustainability efforts. It is a great way for the College and Oberlin to work together to reduce greenhouse gases and promote sustainability in the city.”
The decision to purchase green energy is the result of an environmental stewardship plan initiated by Oberlin President Nancy Dye in early 2002. The plan was developed by the College’s Environmental Policy Advisory Committee (EPAC), comprising faculty and staff members, students, alumni, and Oberlin City Council members. The plan was approved by the Board of Trustees last March.
“Energy deregulation has really opened up the market for green electricity in the United States, and it is expanding rapidly,” says John Petersen ’88, assistant professor of environmental studies and biology and one of the plan’s architects. “Institutions of higher education such as Oberlin are among the most active consumers of green energy.”
Petersen says part of the impetus for the change came from Climate Justice, an Oberlin student group instrumental in educating the campus community and urging climate-sensitive policies.
The agreement also places the Oberlin community in the forefront of a regional push toward environment-friendly energy sources. As a result of this agreement—and a recent vote by Oberlin City Council to invest in partial ownership of a wind turbine project in Bowling Green, Ohio—OMLPS ranks among the top 10 users of green energy when compared to 90 nearby power suppliers.
OMLPS currently receives 10 percent of its annual energy from an environmentally benign hydroelectric dam on the Ohio River in West Virginia, and 4 percent from burning waste methane gas recovered from the local BFI Allied Waste Industries landfill.
Next Page >>