November 1, 2001

Harnessing the Power of Wind and Water

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Harnessing energy from water or wind is no longer an abstract idea. Almost one year after Cornell’s Lake Source Cooling Project (LSC) began operating, the University of Pennsylvania announced on Oct. 24 its decision to purchase wind derived energy from Community Energy, Inc. With its purchase of 20 million kilowatt hours, Penn became the largest consumer of wind energy to date. 5.4 percent of the University of Pennsylvania total electricity next year will comprise of wind power generated in western Pennsylvania.

Initiated by students from the Penn Environmental Group and continued by the facilities department of University of Pennsylvania, this purchase exemplifies an overall goal of finding environmentally sound alternatives to commonplace activities such as heating according to Emily Quesada, co-chair of Penn Environmental Group.

Quesada became interested in alternative energy after attending a UN summit on Global Climate Change in The Hague in November 2000. At the 2001 “Greening the Ivies” conference held at Cornell University in April, Quesada, along with other members of the Penn Environmental Group, joined the “Kyoto Now” Campaign,” which called for each Ivy to meet the standards set by the Kyoto Protocol.

“I began to be interested in wind energy after meeting with a salesman from Community Energy, but at first, I didn’t realize its connection to the global problems,” said Quesada.

“We’re very excited to be part of a clean energy future for Pennsylvania and the nation,” said Barry Hilts, Penn’s associate vice president of facilities.

Cornell’s LSC, launched in 1994 and operating since 2000, represents a commitment to utilizing environmentally sound alternatives.

“The Lake Source Cooling Project is a ongoing initiative by the University.

The fundamental issue [in its development] was the reduction of pollution,” said Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president of University relations.

LSC reduces pollution by using less electrical energy than the system it replaced and further by reducing Cornell’s reliance on cooling techniques that release ozone damaging chloroflorocarbons.

“LSC both reduces emissions and localizes our impact,” said Lindsey Sanders ’03, a member of Cornell Greens. “However, it is a solution that is unique to Cornell while Penn’s purchase of wind power helps the overall picture by increasing the supply of renewable energy, which will help reduce its cost.”

Since its implementation, the Lake Source Cooling Project has earned Cornell several awards. For example, Cornell was honored by the New York State Society of Professional Engineers and by the International District Energy Association.

Unlike Penn’s project, the Lake Source Cooling Project was initiated by the administration and was not a direct response to the “Kyoto Now” Campaign.

After protests by student groups such as Cornell Greens, the administration delivered a formal statement asserting its commitment to the standards of the Kyoto Protocol.

Since this statement last April, the Utilities department has undertaken an

energy audit. “After we find out where the energy is being used, our goal

after than is to figure out how to achieve the goal [of the Kyoto Protocol],” said Emily Cikanek ’04, a member of the Cornell Greens.

“Penn’s wind energy activities is relevant to the Cornell community because

often times the feasibility of renewable energy is overlooked. There is a wind farm not too far from Cornell University,” said Cikanek.

Sanders said that the Cornell Greens have been “pushing the University to buy wind power.”

As for the likelihood of this recommendation, Sanders responded that the question is one of money since wind energy and other alternative energy sources will cost the University more than it currently spends.

Archived article by Jamie Yonks