Bates Commits to Renewable Energy for All of Its Electricity

Bates College will purchase its entire electricity supply from renewable energy sources in Maine, specifically biomass generating plants and small hydroelectric producers, President Elaine Tuttle Hansen announced, in a move designed to “practice better environmental stewardship.”

“Bates by itself is not considered a large user by electric power suppliers,” said Hansen. But working through Maine PowerOptions, an Augusta-based nonprofit purchasing consortium, “we increased our bargaining clout by teaming with hospitals, other nonprofit organizations and local governments. We know that we have a motivated campus community that will help us reduce electricity consumption as the college commits to using renewable energy from our own state.” Beth Nagusky, director of Maine’s Office of Energy Independence and Security, applauded the move. “Maine has a huge renewable power resource,” she said. “Green power purchases by customers such as Bates provide a market for both existing and new renewable resources like hydroelectric, biomass, wind, solar, tidal and landfill-gas projects.” The new arrangement will reduce the college’s greenhouse gas emissions significantly — almost to their 1990 levels, according to a study completed by Camille Parrish, learning associate in environmental studies at Bates. Hansen said that for several months, administrators have been monitoring energy futures. In early November, when market conditions were favorable, the college locked into a new five-year contract, paying an annual additional premium of $76,000 for the renewable Maine-generated electricity, beyond the $1.8 million that “non-green” electricity would have cost. Under the new arrangement, Constellation NewEnergy will supply Bates’ electricity. “Generating power from plants in Maine is a win for the state’s economy and for the environment,” Nagusky said. “We have got to reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels, and Bates is helping to lead the way.” To help the college continue to improve its sustainable practices such as energy conservation and recycling, a search is under way for an environmental coordinator.
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