Wind fee helps Eastern lead conservation efforts

Printed at the bottom of every semester bill is a mysterious fee labeled “Wind Energy Program.”

Those extra twenty-three dollars per student enables Eastern to purchase wind energy each year equal to planting 114,637 trees or taking 125 cars off the road.

On May 26 at the Philadelphia Art Museum, Eastern University received an award from PECO Energy and energy supplier Community Energy in recognition of the school’s large purchase of wind energy.

At the end of 2003, Eastern agreed to buy thirty-seven percent of its total electricity from wind energy supplied through Community Energy.

Eastern’s purchase is the largest college/university percentage purchase in Pennsylvania and the third largest percentage nationally.

Wind energy is a growing alternative to the traditional methods of environmentally harmful energy production (coal, nuclear, natural gas, oil). This new source of electricity is created using state-of-the-art windmills on wind farms. It is then sent to the grids that supply the electricity.

Eastern was one of the first colleges to buy wind energy, according to Linda Olson, director of communications at Eastern.

Of approximately 1,500 full time undergraduate students, 1,047 choose to spend an additional $23 to purchase wind energy.

Eastern’s decision to use wind energy was initiated by students and professors in 2002 who had the goal of one day being solely powered off of wind energy.

“The most important thing is that our initiative was student led. It was something that they believed in and they brought it to the administration, which was pretty impressive,” Olson said.

“The second thing is that this wind energy is just part of Eastern’s environmental commitment. We’re also very involved in the Gulph Creek water shed, recycling, and we also have wetlands,” she said.

Wind energy is environmentally-friendly, despite an alarming rate of bird mortalities in connection with windmill experimenting a few years ago. It is completely pollution-free and creates electricity with no combustion, smoke or waste.

As gas becomes more costly, wind-energy presents an option for the future of energy in the United States.

“This whole emphasis on the environment is very natural for us,” Olson added. “We as a Christian college have a commitment to the environment.”

Pennsylvania colleges and universities that use wind energy

Eastern University (37%)Dickinson College (12.1%)The University of Penn (10.4%) Juniata College (10.4%) Allegheny College (10%)Chatham College (10%) Duquesne University (10%) Keystone College (10%) Mercyhurst College (10%) Drexel University (8.3%) Franklin & Marshall College (7.1%).

Among universities, The University of Pennsylvania is the top purchaser of wind energy. It buys 40,000 megawatt hours, in 2003 signed a 10-year contract for wind, gets 10% of its power from wind, and with Syracuse University is among the top 25 purchasers of wind energy in the country.

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