For the past few years, Students for Environmental Action have attempted to convince Temple’s Main Campus to buy clean, wind-generated energy. But these attempts by the environmental activist group have so far been futile.
Buying wind-generated energy from a local power grid would cost the university extra money, and the administration’s reluctance to raise tuition is why Main Campus does not buy wind-generated power, said Kurt Bresser, the energy and utilities manager for Temple. However, Christine Katz, a sophomore philosophy major and president of SEA, said she, and her group, have a solution.
Katz has proposed that Main Campus buy its own wind turbine, use the clean energy produced and sell the remainder at a profit. By her calculations, the turbine would pay for itself in 10 to12 years.
“Temple already uses properties as investments, so [investing in a wind turbine] would not be all that different,” she said in a proposal outlining her plan.
The university administration will be presented with this new, more cost-effective option by the end of the month, Katz said. Opinions are mixed about whether they would approve the program.
“I’m pessimistic about its opportunities,” said Bresser. “The interest is from the bottom up, and not from the top down.”
Katz said she believes that it will take “only a semester” to convince the university to fund her project. There is no reason, she said, not to invest.
Wind energy is currently more expensive than coal- or gasoline-powered energy. However, wind energy prices are fixed, so Katz said the department can allocate a certain amount of money without having to worry about price increases.
“Energy prices on gas jumped this year and they were really overwhelmed,” said Josh Meyer, a senior environmental studies major and former environmental chair to Temple Student Government. “Wind energy is more stable, it would take a huge burden off of them.”
Temple Ambler and the University of Pennsylvania currently purchase wind energy to power their campuses. Penn has received a great deal of positive feedback from the community since its 2001 decision to use wind power. Penn purchases 10 percent of its energy from wind-generated power. Temple Ambler gets wind power from turbines operated by Community Energy Inc., the nation’s leading wind energy supplier.
“It doesn’t cost Ambler that much to buy the energy,” said Jeff Featherstone, director of the Center for Sustainable Communities.
Carleton College in Minnesota made history in 2004 as the first school in the United States to own its own wind turbine; the turbine produces about 40 percent of the school’s power. According to the college’s Web site, the windmill serves as a rallying point for students.
Kent Miller, the executive director of the Philadelphia Municipal Energy Office, said if Temple were to own its own wind turbine, it would have to be located far from the city.
Turbines are located in so-called “wind farms,” but most wind farms in Pennsylvania are in the western part of the state.
“By purchasing a windmill, Temple could be a leader in the higher education community’s move toward better environmental stewardship practices and help protect public clean air and water,” Katz said.
Carrie Wells can be reached at email@example.com.