September 28, 2011—Half a dozen years ago, students at the University of Utah had a vision to purchase a relatively small amount of wind power to help satisfy the campus’ growing need for electricity. It was a start. But that first spark kept getting bigger and has now morphed into an announcement that the university has entered into a partnership with Rocky Mountain Power and 3Degrees, making it a visionary-level Blue Sky partner.
Student Body President Neela Pack was on hand at the Olpin Union Plaza today for the announcement. She says the university has come a long way with its sustainability efforts since the early efforts to go green. “I’m really proud of this partnership to make such a large block of wind power available to the university for use in its many buildings, labs, and other facilities,” says Pack. “Without student support and the support of the administration, specifically facility and sustainability managers, we would not be able to keep improving our green power base.”
The university’s support for renewable energy is made possible through a student fee-funded sustainability program established in 2005. With the new partnership, the university is reducing its carbon footprint by supporting 98,233,000 kilowatt-hours of wind energy production for one year, with plans for an additional two-year renewable energy commitment.
“The University of Utah has stepped up in athletics by joining the Pac-12, and it is also stepping up its commitment to renewable energy,” says Alene Bentley, customer & community manager for Rocky Mountain Power. “The university’s first-year renewable energy purchase through Blue Sky and 3Degrees has the combined environmental benefit of taking more than 13,200 cars off the road for one year or planting 1.7 million trees.”
Blue Sky funding awards have already helped to bring solar energy to the university’s Sterling Sill Center and Natural History Museum of Utah. Now, as a visionary-level Blue Sky partner, it is also helping to bring more wind energy online in the Western United States and to support the development of community-based renewable energy projects close to home.
Through its agreement with 3Degrees, the university is supporting wind energy production from the Tatanka wind farm on the border of North Dakota and South Dakota. The U selected Rocky Mountain Power and 3Degrees as its renewable energy partners as the result of a competitive bidding process to provide renewable energy certificates.
The university’s Office of Sustainability is encouraging students, faculty and staff to do even more by voluntarily helping to offset their own electricity use by signing up for Blue Sky. “The need to use green energy doesn’t end when people leave campus,” says Myron Willson, director of the Office of Sustainability. “We want the university community to set an example for others about the need to conserve and use energy wisely.”
Rocky Mountain Power will also offer a challenge grant during the upcoming KUER fall pledge drive and answer phone calls. Public radio members can conveniently sign up for Blue Sky at the same time.
Find out more by going to the University of Utah Facebook page.
To find out more about Rocky Mountain power’s Blue Sky Program and 3Degrees, please visit the following links:
Blue Sky: http://www.rockymountainpower.net/env/bsre.html