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BELLINGHAM - Western Washington University has entered into an agreement with Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to give Western students the best possible environmental outcome when purchasing green power by having it come from North Dakota wind farms instead of renewable projects in the Pacific Northwest.
Since 2002 PSE has been recognized as offering one of the top 10 green power programs in the country. For several years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ranked WWU among the nation's top 10 green energy purchasers in higher education
"Western has been a national leader in the use of renewable energy in higher education and our students continue to be at the forefront of this critical issue," said Western President Karen W. Morse.
Since fall of 2005, Western has purchased all of its electrical energy through PSE from a 100-percent renewable source in the Pacific Northwest. This was made possible by Western students voting in spring 2004 to implement a student fee to offset the cost of purchasing renewable energy, a first in the nation.
Until now, Western has purchased renewable energy credits, also known as green tags, from projects located in the Pacific Northwest through Puget Sound Energy. These green tags replace traditional polluting sources of electricity with clean, secure and sustainable renewable sources of energy such as wind or solar power.
Western students continued their research into renewable energy and sought how best to optimize their purchase of green power in terms of combating global warming.
"The decision to switch purchasing locations was made because of a long-standing desire on the part of the students to make the biggest difference possible. When the opportunity arose to purchase green tags from a location that made a greater environmental impact, the students fully supported this choice," said Rose Woofenden, president of the Western student club Students for Renewable Energy.
That led to a Memorandum of Agreement between Western and PSE, in which the utility agreed to purchase green tags from two North Dakota wind projects. North Dakota was selected by Western based on new standards that show it as one of the most carbon-intensive regions of the United States in terms of energy generation. Carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and other sources are cited as one of the leading causes of global warming.
"Western Washington University continues to be a leader and innovator in its renewable energy investments," said Roger Garratt, director of Resource Acquisition at PSE. "We commend the students' commitment to sustainability and look forward to a continued partnership to deliver the greenest energy possible to the university."
Western Washington University is now 9th on the EPA's list of the nation's top 10 green energy purchasers in higher education. Western is the only university in the State of Washington currently on the list.
"Through our purchasing of green tags, we have set an example for other schools that are purchasing green tags, installing renewable energy generation, and addressing conservation issues. We have raised awareness and shown other institutions that it is possible to make a difference on a large scale," Woofenden said.
The renewable energy resources supported by the overall PSE Green Power Program include wind, solar, landfill gas, and biomass from clean wood waste and agriculture. Electricity generated by Pacific Northwest Green Power-supported renewable resources is delivered to the Northwest power supply grid, increasing the ratio of renewable energy in the Northwest power pool.
Western ranked behind New York University, the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University, the California State University System, Duke University, University of California, Santa Cruz, Texas A & M University System, the City University of New York and was tied at ninth with Northwestern University on the EPA's seventh "Top 10 College and University Partners" list of schools with the largest completed renewable energy purchases as of Jan. 8.
For more information on EPA's Top 10 college and university Partners list, visit: http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/toplists/top10ed.htm
Puget Sound Energy is Washington state's oldest and largest energy utility, with a 6,000-square-mile service area stretching across 11 counties, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) serves more than 1 million electric customers and 729,000 natural gas customers. PSE, a subsidiary of Puget Energy (NYSE: PSD), meets the energy needs of its growing customer base primarily in Western Washington through incremental, cost-effective energy conservation, procurement of sustainable energy resources, and far-sighted investment in the energy-delivery infrastructure. PSE employees are dedicated to providing great customer service to deliver energy that is safe, reliable, reasonably priced, and environmentally responsible. For more information, visit http://www.pse.com/