October 16, 2003

Kyoto Now! Launches Wind Power Campaign

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The wind served as both an ally and enemy to Kyoto Now! members yesterday, with bad weather relocating their press conference on their new wind power campaign from Ho Plaza to the Straight art gallery.

With the campaign, called Wind Power Now!, the Kyoto Now! members aim to convince the administration to build a wind farm near Ithaca.

About 10 Kyoto Now! members presented their plan, along with background about the larger Kyoto Now! campaign, to the 11-person audience.

Serving as a living prop, former Kyoto Now! president and Sun columnist Abigail Krich ’04 also posed as a renewable-energy Lady Liberty, complete with a small spinning “windmill” in one hand and a solar panel in the other. When the top of the “windmill” fell off its PVC pipe base, Lindsay Saunders ’04 joked, “Our windmill will not do that.”

Currently, the group is working with four students in the engineering college to evaluate potential local sites for a wind farm. As part of the assessment, they are soon going to erect a test wind tower to accurately measure the area’s wind speed.

The Kyoto Now! members are also in the process of designing a business and legal plan, with the help of students in the business and law schools. A student in the Department of Natural Resources is going to conduct a wildlife impact survey as well to foresee any possible negative effects the wind farm may have on the environment.

They hope to complete all of the plans by early next semester and have the administration approve the designs by the end of that semester.

In addition to the environmental benefits, the organization hopes that the wind farm will provide educational opportunities.

“We want this not to be just energy for the school but benefit [the school] educationally,” Krich said.

The wind farm will be more economically practical than other alternative energies like solar energy, according to members.

“Ithaca fortunately happens to be one of the windier locations in New York, and not one of the sunniest,” Kyoto Now! president Tristan Jackson ’05 said.

Although members do not expect the administration to respond immediately, they believe that it will eventually support their wind farm plans.

“We expect to struggle with them every step of the way. They only move quickly when there’s money to be saved or be made,” Jackson said. “They care more about things the University is more known for, like research, than their image as an environmental leader.”

If the administration approves the plans, the Cornell campus will run on 10 percent renewable energy. Even though the university has worked on energy conservation, they have not yet made a commitment to buying renewable energy.

“We have yet to see a proactive purchase or investment in renewable energy,” Saunders said.

Students in the audience seemed to support the organization’s efforts.

“I think it’s important for the new president to know he has a group of students seriously committed to alternative energy,” Tomer Malchi ’04 said. Commenting on administration response, he said, “I’d hope they’d respond without any empty promises.”

The Kyoto Now! overall campaign began in Spring 2001, and the administration agreed to abide by the Kyoto Protocol standards on greenhouse gases in April 2001. This commitment requires that by 2008, the University’s greenhouse gas levels are seven percent lower than 1990 levels.

Archived article by Shannon Brescher