University to Offset all Power with Renewable Energy

The Western Washington University board of trustees on June 10 voted on a student fee that will allow the university to purchase all of its electricity from renewable energy sources. The fee will provide enough revenue to purchase from Puget Sound Energy (PSE) approximately 35 million kilowatt hours of electricity in the 2005-06 school year or the comparable annual electric usage of 3,200 homes. This purchase nearly doubles the amount of renewable energy bought by customers through PSEs Green Power Program, which includes wind and solar resources in its mix.

“The fact that Western is becoming a national leader in the use of renewable energy is a tribute to the vision, determination and leadership shown by our students and administration,” said Western President Karen W. Morse. Western’s purchase positions the university to become a national leader in the renewable energy field, as the second largest purchaser of renewable power in higher education and the 15th largest purchaser overall. This has been a cooperative effort, going back two years. “Students came up with the idea of a renewable energy initiative and have shown considerable leadership in researching and following through with this”, said Rachel Zommick, Associated Students president. “The Western board of trustees and administration have been very supportive of this student effort and have encouraged this vision of sustainable energy here at Western.” In spring 2004, a WWU student initiative on renewable energy passed with 84.7 percent approval. That student initiative included a maximum fee of $19 a quarter for full-time students. On Feb. 4, the board of trustees approved a student fee to be utilized for the purchase of renewable energy, with the amount to be set following discussions with Puget Sound Energy. Based on those discussions with PSE, the trustees on June 10 set the amount of a student fee of $1.05 per credit per quarter for students on the main campus with a maximum of $10.50 per quarter for students enrolled for 10 or more credits. That fee, effective fall quarter, will generate approximately $355,000 a year. This amount is projected to provide enough revenue to allow Western to purchase all of its electricity from renewable sources.
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