Today, the University of Arizona (UArizona) announced it partnered with Tucson Electric Power (TEP) for its campus to obtain all of its grid-based electricity from renewable sources. In fact, the university said that by the end of May, this would be possible. As a result, the institution will be able to cut the institution’s greenhouse gas footprint by nearly one-third.
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UArizona on transitioning its grid-based electricity to renewable sources
Today, the University of Arizona (UArizona) announced it partnered with Tucson Electric Power (TEP) to power all of its grid-based electricity with renewable resources. According to the institution, by the end of May, this will be possible, thus cutting its GHG footprint by nearly one-third.
In fact, UArizona entered into a large-Scale Renewable Energy Agreement with TEP in December 2019. Moreover, the agreement is the largest of its kind between a local utility and a university in North America.
Therefore, the agreed energy will come from two sources: the Oso Grande Wind Farm in southeastern New Mexico and the Wilmot Energy Center solar-plus-storage system south of Tucson.
Indeed, the Wilmot Energy Center began delivering power to UArizona on April 30. On the other hand, the wind farm will go online later this month.
According to the university, it has 47,000 students, 15,500 faculty and staff, and more than $734 million in research activity. Thus, the institution uses much power as about 22,000 average American homes.
Hence, the amount of energy that TEP will deliver to the university would be enough to provide nearly 12,000 average American homes with clean power. Moreover, the environmental impact would be similar to removing 14,000 cars from the road annually. The university will also offset scope two emissions (GHGs result from the generation of electricity, heat, or steam by a utility provider) through the agreement.
Other projects between the university and TEP
Additionally, UArizona negotiated and locked in certain energy costs over the 20-year life of the agreement. In this regard, Trevor Ledbetter, director of the university’s Office of Sustainability, pointed out: “The move to carbon neutrality is a strong trend in higher education. However, many institutions are taking another route by entering into purchase power agreements. So, they often partner with a different third-party renewable energy developer, usually several states away.”
Additionally, TEP installed solar panels that now shade a rooftop garden on the university’s Environment and Natural Resources 2 Building. In fact, the Company installed these panels as part of a physical demonstration of the Large Scale Renewable Energy Agreement.
Therefore, the ENR2 Rooftop Photovoltaics (PV)+ Project serves as an experimental education and research site for students. In fact, they can study the co-location of solar panels and the growing of plants.
Moreover, the university is looking to launch a Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. This is designed to enhance the operational sustainability of the university.
Finally, TEP is also working with climate experts at UArizona’s Arizona Institutes for Resilience. Thus, this Project looks to continue to develop measurable, science-based carbon reduction targets. Notably, to help guide the TEP’s long-term resource development plans.