Renewable energy future
In January, Michigan State University unveiled its Energy Transition Plan, a strategic guide to the university’s energy future.
The proposed plan was drafted over the last year by the Energy Transition Steering Committee, a 24-member group of students, faculty, and staff whose charge was to develop a road map to help MSU reliably meet its future energy needs while keeping a close eye on costs and environmental impact.
The ultimate goal of the plan is to help create an environment in which the university is powered by 100 percent renewable energy, understanding that this is perhaps a distant goal that requires investment in resources and more advanced technology than is currently available.
This plan is the first and most important step toward a renewable future at MSU and will set standards and guide future energy decisions similar to how the Campus Master Plan guides the university’s physical growth.
The plan, which may be viewed at president.msu.edu, has three goals:
- Improve the physical environment of the campus. Pursue aggressive, sustainable energy conservation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the reinvestment of energy savings for future renewable technologies.
- Invest in sustainable energy research and development. Promote sustainable energy research by using the campus as a living, learning laboratory for developing, evaluating, and demonstrating new technologies.
- Become an educational leader in sustainable energy. MSU will apply its knowledge to improve the quality of life for local, regional, and national communities and will share what it learns through its energy-transition process.
Currently, the chief power provider to MSU’s 5,200-acre campus is the T. B. Simon Power Plant. Located on the south end of campus, the power plant burns coal, natural gas, and biomass to produce steam that is used for heat and electricity. Despite the diverse sources of fuel, costs have more than doubled in the last decade and are projected to continue to increase.
The university also has two solar arrays that are used to produce on-campus energy as well as a geothermal system currently under construction.
The bulk of MSU’s current energy-related savings comes from conservation policies and practices, helping give MSU the lowest electrical consumption per square foot among its peers in the Big Ten. The university set goals to further reduce energy use by 15 percent by 2015.