OU to be powered completely by wind by
Sep 10, 2008 - Murray Evans - The Associated Press
The University of Oklahoma's Norman campus will be completely
powered by wind by 2013, OU President David Boren said Wednesday,
calling the plan one of the largest renewable energy commitments
ever made by a public university in the U.S.
In front of a backdrop of green balloons inside OU's Student
Union, Boren made the announcement along with Oklahoma Gas
and Electric Co. Chairman, President and Chief Executive
Officer Pete Delaney.
OU will purchase the wind-generated power from OG&E, which
plans to build a new commercial-scale wind farm near Woodward
in northwestern Oklahoma. University regents approved the
deal during a meeting earlier Wednesday in Tulsa.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission still must approve
the planned wind farm and a new transmission line that is
planned to run between Woodward and Oklahoma City.
Boren said OU also will increase its use of vehicles powered
by compressed natural gas, or CNG, and will open a new CNG
refueling station on campus in November.
"It is our patriotic duty as Americans to help our country
achieve energy independence and to be sound stewards of
the environment," Boren said. "All of us as Americans should
unite in this effort.
"OU is uniquely situated for leadership in this area not
only because of the conservation steps being announced today,
but because of our academic leadership in fields related
to advanced oil and gas production, enhanced recovery of
fossil fuels, weather and climate research, biofuels research
and other areas."
Currently, about 10 percent of OU's power is generated
by wind. Boren said that OG&E will provide increasing amounts
of wind power to the campus, particularly after what will
be named the "OU Spirit" wind farm begins production in
"Together we are taking an important step to make Oklahoma
a leader in renewable energy," said Delaney, who called
renewable energy sources such as wind "an important part
of our supply diversity."
Boren cited the University of Oregon and New York University,
a private institution, as among the national leaders in
using power generated by renewable sources on their campus.
In Oklahoma, the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond
made the switch to 100-percent wind power in April 2006.
"It's the right thing to do for the environment," UCO spokesman
Charlie Johnson said. "Our green campus initiative has been
very successful over the last several years."
Boren and UCO President Roger Webb are thought to be the
only Oklahoma college presidents to have signed the American
College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, which
asks schools to "achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible."
Delaney said that OG&E has committed to quadruple its
wind-power production during the coming years. He said the
Oklahoma City-based company also will establish internships
and scholarships for OU students who study renewable energy.
Wind energy is fast becoming a major source of electricity,
said Mike Bergey, a former president of the American Wind
Energy Association and the current president of the Norman
Chamber of Commerce.
"The Oklahoma economy is poised to receive up to $40 billion
in wind energy investments and thousands of green-collar
jobs," Bergey said. "Those are jobs that will help us keep
our best and brightest here at home."
As for OU's current motor pool, Boren said it now includes
21 CNG-powered vehicles, 42 flex-fuel vehicles and 2 gas-electric
hybrid vehicles and 40 electric carts. He said that as older,
gasoline-powered vehicles are taken out of service, they
will be replaced with vehicles that use alternative fuels.
Vehicles owned by the city of Norman also will be able
to use the new CNG fueling station, which will be located
at the campus motor pool's base of operations.
Boren said using wind-generated power shouldn't cost OU
significantly more than it's now paying, and could even
be cheaper long-term. He said that because of the university's
membership in the Chicago Climate Exchange, as OU reduces
its carbon dioxide emissions by purchasing wind power, it
will earn renewable energy credits, which have a marketable
value on the exchange.