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Duquesne switches to Pennsylvania wind power

By Anthony Meier
On January 11, 2012

  • Duquesne's cogeneration plant supplies 70 percent of the University's energy. The other 30 percent will now be partially supplied by Pennsylvania wind farms which was previously supplied by Texas wind plants. This change aims to stimulate the local economy. Jenna O'Brien/Photo Editor
  • Duquesne's cogeneration plant supplied 80 percent of the campus’s heating and cooling prior to the switch to Pennsylvania wind farms. The plant, located next to Gumberg Library, now supports 70 percent of Duquesne’s energy. Jenna O'Brien/Photo Editor

Duquesne will use certified Pennsylvania wind energy to help power its campus starting in 2012.

Previously, Duquesne's wind energy came from Green e-Certified Texas wind plants. Pennsylvania wind farms will now supply all of Duquesne's wind energy, which combined with landfill gas energy, powered a portion of the 30 percent of the campus's overall energy, according to a report done by Duquesne's Center for Environmental Research.

The other 70 percent is powered by the on-campus cogeneration plant, located between Gumberg Library and the Forbes Garage, which runs on natural gas.

The University decided to have in-state wind plants supply campus energy for financial purposes and to help the local economy, according to Director of Facilities Management George Fecik.

"The price of Pennsylvania wind has been expensive in the past, but they [prices] came down at the time of renewal of wind power," Fecik said. "We wanted to go with Pa. wind to help the local economy."

Fecik said the University first decided to implement a green energy plan about 14 years ago. Although the prices of renewable energy remain at a premium, Duquesne is dedicated to clean energy sources, he said.

"Duquesne's always been interested in going green," Fecik said. "We are always looking for anything to go green … wind power is one of those things."

Stanley Kabala, associate director of Duquesne's Center for Environmental Research and Education, said the University's switch from coal and nuclear power to the cogeneration plant and renewable energy credits has many benefits.

"Natural gas burns cleaner than coal and has a significantly lower carbon dioxide emission," Kabala said. "Wind power has zero carbon emission."

Renewable energy helps reduce acid rain and mercury emissions in the area, Kabala said. Acid rain and toxic mercury emissions are both notorious long-term effects of burning coal for fuel.

According to a press release, Duquesne is responsible for removing more than 11 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from the air.

Kabala said that Duquesne's recent expansions will only increase the campus's demand for renewable energy.

"The University used to get 80 percent of its power from the cogeneration plant," Kabala said. "It is now more like 70/30 with the building additions. This only ups the demand for… wind power."

Duquesne's mission to go green has been recognized several times by the national Environmental Protection Agency. In 2009, the University was the first school in the state to receive the Energy Star Combined Heat and Power Award.

Mollie Lemon, spokeswoman for the EPA's Green Power Partnership, said Duquesne has been annually recognized as the individual conference champion for the Atlantic 10 in Green Power Partnership's College and University Green Power Challenge since the University formed a partnership with the EPA in 2007.

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