In January of 2007, Bemidji State University announced that it had been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a Green Power Partner for its commitment to purchase renewable wind energy.
Bemidji State began purchasing wind energy through the Otter Tail Power Company’s TailWinds program in the fall of 2005 and currently purchases about five percent of its electricity as wind energy. The program is part of an effort to reduce reliance on fossil fuels for electrical power and the greenhouse gas emissions that could contribute to climate change.
Students for the Environment, a BSU campus-based group open to students and community members, led the effort to begin the student-fee funded purchase of wind energy, starting with blocks of wind energy to help power the Hobson Memorial Student Union. The group continues to explore options for renewable energy use and conservation.
Much of the push for wind energy and other renewable energy sources has come from the students, but making alternative energy a reality for BSU has been made possible with the support of BSU administration and professors.
Rich Marsolek, BSU coordinator of environmental health and safety, completed the application for the Green Power Partnership and noted that Bemidji State is purchasing its green power on a voluntary basis in hopes of being a community leader in supporting renewable energy.
“We should all be trying to do what we can to benefit the environment,” Marsolek said. “We want to be a leader in the community and set an example to encourage others.”
The EPA Green Power Partnership website lists Bemidji State among colleges and universities, Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and other organizations that have made a commitment to use renewable energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact hydro resources.
The EPA site notes that voluntary purchases of green power help accelerate the development of new, domestic renewable energy facilities, further increasing the nation’s energy security.
To become a partner, organizations must replace part of their annual electricity consumption with green power. Partners have one year to buy green power at a level that meets or exceeds EPA’s recommended levels.
More than 650 Green Power Partners are purchasing enough clean, renewable energy to power over 400,000 American homes each year.
For more information, visit the EPA Green Power Partnership site at http://www.epa.gov/greenpower