Western fell from first to nineteenth on a list of the top 20 colleges or universities that are the biggest purchasers of renewable energy credits, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which compiled the list.
A common misconception is that Western is directly receiving wind-generated power by purchasing green energy, said Seth Vidaña, campus sustainability manager.
The fact that Western has fallen on the list does not mean that the university isn’t continuing to do its part, but rather that larger schools with higher energy consumption needs are participating, Vidaña said.
The purchase of renewable energy credits by Western is an investment in wind farms, an expensive source of electricity. The money invested makes up the difference in cost so wind farmers can compete with coal fire power plants, a cheaper source of electricity, Vidaña said.
The funds for these credits are generated by the green energy fee, which students contribute to with their tuition by paying 70 cents per credit, but no more than $7 dollars a quarter.
“What we get for investing is [the ability] to claim carbon emissions reduction,” said Vidaña.
Western purchases credits based on an estimate of electricity consumption and sometimes usage is overestimated, resulting in an over-purchase of credits, said Vidaña.