Otter Tail Power gift completes sustainable campus endowment

Otter Tail Power gift completes sustainable campus endowment

Bemidji State University received a $5,000 gift from Otter Tail Power Company in April, 2007, to fully endow the Sustainable Campus Endowment Fund and bring the balance of that fund to more than $12,000.

Interest from the fund will enable the University to support student projects aimed at making the campus more environmentally sustainable. The projects can be research based or education based.

A fully-funded endowment was one initiative of BSU’s Environmental Task Force, which was formed in 1992 to make the University more responsive to its impact on the natural world and to make the campus community more environmentally conscious.

“It is hoped that these projects will lead to changes on campus, much like an environmental audit during the mid-1990s,” said Dr. Pat Welle, professor of economics and environmental studies. “That outcome led to changes such as a greater use of energy-efficient light bulbs and the installation of LED lights in all exit signs on campus.”

“Merely changing one kind of fluorescent bulb has saved the university about 142,000 kilowatt hours a year,” said Rich Marsolek, BSU environmental, health and safety coordinator. “That equals cost savings of nearly $8,500 and is equivalent to 3.3 days of powering the main campus, including the dorms.”

In 2002, the National Wildlife Federation designated BSU as an exemplary school in its first national survey of college and university environmental practices. In 2005, Bemidji State began purchasing wind energy through the Otter Tail Power Company’s TailWind Program and currently purchases approximately five percent of its electricity as wind energy.

Most recently, the University was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a Green Power Partner for its commitment to purchase renewable wind energy.

Otter Tail Power Company was incorporated in 1907 and currently serves 128,500 customers in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Headquartered in Fergus Falls, Minn., the company produces approximately 10 percent of its electricity through renewable means.