The Dernogalizer

December 14, 2009

University System of Maryland Approves 4 Large-Scale Renewable Energy Projects

This is a great step for the University of Maryland, and the USM system as a whole.  Hats off to them for taking significant steps to make good on their commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050, and their interim commitments under their climate action plans.  The system’s press release is below.

USM Board of Regents Approves Award of Four Large-Scale Renewable Energy Projects

University of Maryland, College Park Provides Procurement Leadership in State-USM Partnership to Reduce Maryland’s Carbon Footprint

Adelphi, MD (Dec. 8, 2009) — The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents has approved the award of four renewable energy projects that will produce more than 20 percent of the annual electric needs for USM institutions and state agencies. The contracts will also advance the state’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint by 25 percent by 2020 and the USM’s commitment to carbon neutrality under the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

With procurement leadership from officials at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), the four projects recommended for award to regional energy providers include a 13 megawatt (MW) solar project at Mount St. Mary’s University (Constellation Energy), a 10 MW wind project in western Maryland (Synergics), a 55 MW project in West Virginia (US Wind Force) and up to 55 MW of offshore wind (Bluewater Wind). The regents approved the recommendation at their meeting on Dec. 4, 2009.

It is expected that USM institutions will contract for approximately 100,000 MWh of annual energy, representing 20% of the Systems electrical consumption equivalent to the electric use of more than 10,000 households.

“This is a significant step under the University System of Maryland’s Environmental Sustainability Initiative, reflecting our commitment to carbon reduction through a 20-year agreement for the purchase of renewable energy,” said USM Chancellor William E. Kirwan.

The recommendations for awards come after a 10-month solicitation process under the Generating Clean Horizons request for proposals (RFP), administered by UMCP. UMCP provided the procurement and technical lead for the effort, working with the state’s Department of General Services and the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA).

“The University of Maryland is very happy to have contributed to this commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.  It is one big step among many to come toward our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050,” said University of Maryland, College Park President  C. D. Mote, Jr. “Higher education must continue to lead initiatives countering the green-house gas driver of climate change.”

Provisions in the contracts will allow other state agencies and higher education institutions, counties and municipalities to participate in the long-term purchase of renewable energy.

“This demonstrates the seriousness of Maryland’s commitment to embrace clean energy from multiple technology sources,” said MEA Director Malcolm Woolf. “We have leveraged the state’s own electricity needs with clean energy developers’ desire for long term contracts that will help deployment in this credit-strapped economic climate. The tremendous level of interest from public and private entities demonstrates that Marylanders can and will remain the leading state for greener solutions with predictable pricing to meet out energy challenges.”

Final power purchase agreements are expected to be executed during the next several weeks, with initial delivery of energy under the agreements beginning in late 2010 or early 2011.

“To the best of our knowledge, this partnership represents the first time that an aggregation of state universities and agencies has contracted for the long-term power purchase of renewable energy outside of the state-regulated electric utilities.  The deregulation of the electric supply markets in Maryland has allowed us to take advantage of procuring our future electric supply from our preference of energy projects,” said Joan Kowal, Energy Manager at UMCP and chair of the RFP review committee. “We now have direct control over how quickly we can reduce our carbon footprint.”

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