Salt Lake City—The University of Utah plans to reduce its total carbon emissions by 25 percent through an agreement to source 50 percent of its electricity from carbon-free solar and geothermal energy sources. The university’s agreement is the largest long-term green power contract of any U.S. university, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership rankings.
Cyrq Energy, a Utah company based in Salt Lake City, and Berkshire Hathaway Energy Renewables (BHER) will provide 20 megawatts of geothermal energy and 10 megawatts of solar energy to the university for the next 25 years. The university also will enter into an agreement with Rocky Mountain Power to provide transmission of the power over its network. All agreements will be reviewed by the Public Service Commission.
“We are very pleased to have this opportunity to bring more renewable resources to the grid in Utah and are truly grateful for the shared efforts of our partners, Cyrq, BHER and Rocky Mountain Power,” said Amy Wildermuth, chief sustainability officer. “Not only are geothermal and solar energy key components in the diverse array of energy sources in our state, the university has substantial and continuing research efforts in both areas. To be part of a project like this demonstrates the practicality and affordability of these carbon-free energy sources, which we hope can serve as a model for others.”
In 2008, the university signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, dedicating the U to carbon neutrality by 2050. In addition to this purchase, the university will continue to advance a multi-layered carbon-neutrality strategy, including energy efficiency measures and on-site energy creation like rooftop solar and solar parking canopies.
A study is underway to determine what percentage of the university’s energy demand could be produced on campus, and where those projects might be located. In addition to working on university emissions, the U has also helped to spur the local renewable energy market through U Community Solar, an innovative group purchasing program.