Oklahoma State University’s (OSU) use of wind power ranks it the fifth highest college green power purchaser in the country, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s top 20 colleges and universities list.
The school receives an annual 110,000,000 kilowatt-hours, or kWh, of green power, according to the list. The power comes from the Cowboy wind farm in Blackwell, said James Rosner, director of Utilities & Energy Management. The 26-turbine wind farm provides 67 percent of OSU’s power.
This was OSU’s first time to make the list, which is updated quarterly, Rosner said. The college entered a 20-year agreement with Oklahoma Gas & Electric in 2011 to provide OSU’s wind power, which lead to the creation of the Cowboy wind farm. The farm began generating wind power for the campus Jan. 1.
Before wind power, OSU used natural gas as its primary source of generating electricity, Rosner said. Part of the school’s goal to help decrease its carbon dioxide emissions was to look at more sustainable energy. OSU’s high use of green power is equivalent to canceling out CO2 emissions of 15,000 vehicles per year, he said.
“(Wind power) is definitely a step in the right direction,” Rosner said. “We are able to drastically reduce our CO2 emissions.”
OSU’s contribution to the green energy initiative and having a renewable source of electricity are the biggest benefits of the change, he said.
A downside of the switch to wind power is the price increase, Rosner said. The utility bill consists of eight parts. The primary components are the winter rate, which is from November to May, and the summer rate, which is from June to October. The winter rate before the agreement with Oklahoma Gas & Electric was 2.4 cents per kWh. The price increased to 3.5 cents per kWh. The summer on-peak rate, which is from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., increased from 3.6 cents per kWh to 4 cents per kWh, he said.
Ilda Hershey, the sustainability coordinator at OSU, said ranking fifth in the country demonstrates the college is a leader in renewable energy.
“It helps us to set a good example of environmental stewardship,” Hershey said. “Not only for students, faculty and staff but for the community, state and nation, too.”
The University of Pennsylvania purchases 200,194,600 kWh, ranking it No. 1 in the country, according to the list.
Only three schools in the Big 12 Conference use green power as a primary source for power, according to the list. OSU is ranked No. 1 in the conference. The University of Oklahoma, which purchases 97,201,680 kWh and receives 56 percent of its electricity from green power, is No. 2 in the conference, according to the list. However, it is not in the top 20. Iowa State University purchases 15,800,000 kWh annually and receives 8 percent of its electricity from green power.