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Penn’s Increasing Use of Renewable Wind Energy
May 6, 2008, Volume 54, No. 32


The University of Pennsylvania is increasing its use of renewable wind energy during the next two years, earning the University the rank of top consumer of wind energy among institutions of higher education across the nation, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Penn has ranked consistently as one of the nation’s Top 25 green-power purchasers since the EPA began ranking institutions in 2005.

The University, which purchases its wind energy through Community Energy of Radnor, PA, will purchase an additional 80,000 megawatt hours per year, bringing its total wind-energy purchase to nearly 200,000 megawatt hours per year. This figure is the equivalent to powering 22,000 average homes in the United States for a year. Penn’s current wind-energy contracts continue through 2011, with the supplemental purchase retroactively covering 2007 and 2008.

“We are proud to expand our sizeable commitment to clean and renewable wind energy,” President Amy Gutmann said. “This is yet another demonstrable step that Penn is taking as a leader in a global effort to achieve environmental sustainability.”

Purchasing wind energy is one element of Penn’s Green Campus Partnership, a multi-year strategic plan to achieve climate neutrality.

In February 2007, Dr. Gutmann was the first Ivy League signatory to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, requiring Penn to develop a long-range plan for carbon neutrality. An interdisciplinary committee of students, faculty and staff are at work on this plan, which will be completed in the fall of 2009.

“By the completion of our sustainability plan in 2009, we expect to unveil additional programs including continued participation in sustainable energy,” said Anne Papageorge, vice president for facilities and real estate services at Penn.


Penn’s wind power purchases propel the Bear Creek wind farm construction.

The University of Pennsylvania is a member of the Green Power Leadership Club, a 2002 Green Power Leadership Award winner, and a 2003 Green Power Partner of the Year. The University became the nation’s largest nongovernmental purchaser of wind power on Earth Day 2003 when it announced that it would double its wind power purchase, the highest nationally at that time, to 40 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually. Penn also extended the contract length to 10 years from three, thus becoming the wind energy industry’s first customer with a 10-year renewable energy certificate contract. In 2008, Penn increased its renewable energy certificate purchase to over 190 million kWh. The University is funding its historic wind power purchases with savings achieved through aggressive energy conservation. Over the past few years, the University reduced peak electric demand by 18 percent. Penn’s long-term commitment will help make possible the construction of a new 12-turbine, 20-megawatt Pennsylvania wind farm.

Related: Daniel Garofalo: Sustainability Coordinator



Almanac - May 6, 2008, Volume 54, No. 32