MSUToday
Published: May 8, 2019

MSU helps Big Ten achieve largest collective green energy use

Contact(s): Fred Woodhams IPF office: (517) 930-6931 woodham4@msu.edu

Michigan State University is one of eight schools in the Big Ten Conference being recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as national 2018-19 Collective Conference Champions for green energy use.

The EPA says the Big Ten schools collectively use more green power than any other conference participating in the 2018-19 College and University Green Power Challenge. The University of Maryland led the way as conference champion for using the largest proportion of green energy. MSU’s use of more than 17 million kilowatt-hours of green power, representing nearly 7 % of its annual electricity usage, helped contribute to the winning conference effort.

“MSU is working hard to continue our transition to a cleaner energy future,” said Sherri Jett, director of utilities for Infrastructure Planning and Facilities. “While the transition to increasing amounts of renewable energy will be accomplished over a period of years, we are making steady and significant progress that puts new meaning and pride in ‘Go Green!’”

MSU’s use of more than 17 million kWh of green energy is equivalent to the electricity use of nearly 2,000 average American homes annually, and the Big Ten Conference’s collective green energy use of nearly 516 million kWh is equivalent to the electricity use of nearly 48,000 average American homes.

Jett said the university’s move toward a cleaner energy future started by eliminating the use of coal at the T.B. Simon Power Plant in 2016 and replacing it with cleaner, reliable natural gas.

“The environmental benefit of ending the use of coal on campus is equivalent to planting half a million trees each year,” Jett said. “We will continue to transition to more renewable energy sources that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money and ensure reliable power on campus.”

Under the Energy Transition Plan, which was launched in 2012 and updated in 2017, the university has reduced greenhouse gases by 30 % while growing renewable energy sources. The first two renewable energy projects implemented under the plan were an anaerobic digester and MSU’s carport solar array. The anaerobic digester diverts food and animal waste along with other organic material away from a landfill to produce organic fertilizer and renewable biogas, which is then converted into electricity. The carport solar array is the largest of its kind in America and has collected numerous awards. It provides up to 18 % of the university’s peak power and is projected to save more than $10 million in electricity costs in the next two decades.

Improving the T.B. Simon Power Plant with RICE technology is the next step in the Energy Transition Plan. Three reciprocating internal combustion engines will enable the university to meet its responsibility to deliver reliable and affordable power to campus while maximizing energy efficiency, reducing emissions, and continuing to move toward a future of increased renewable energy use. Modernizing the power plant with RICE technology was first announced in 2015.

In the 2018-19 Green Power Challenge, the 35 collegiate conferences and 109 schools competing collectively used nearly 3.6 billion kWh of green power. EPA’s Green Power Challenge is open to any collegiate athletic conference in the United States. To qualify, a conference must include at least two schools that qualify as Green Power Partners, and the conference must collectively use at least 10 million kWh of green power. EPA will restart the 14th season of the College and University Green Power Challenge in fall 2019 and conclude in spring 2020.