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Wind farm future questionable, but CSU committed to reducing emissions

The collapse last week of a deal to build a massive electricity-generating wind farm on CSU's Maxwell Ranch highlights the university's struggles to significantly cut its consumption of fossil fuels and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. ...administrators say transforming the university's operations will take far longer than initially expected.

The collapse last week of a deal to build a massive electricity-generating wind farm on CSU's Maxwell Ranch highlights the university's struggles to significantly cut its consumption of fossil fuels and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

While Colorado State University has made a series of small- and medium-sized steps, administrators say transforming the university's operations will take far longer than initially expected.

Fort Collins campus President Tony Frank acknowledges that the 2008 plan to "rapidly" become carbon-neutral won't be a reality for decades because the university can't afford to make major changes right now. Former CSU President Larry Penley had proposed the university become carbon-neutral by 2020 and signed CSU onto a national effort by colleges and universities to cut emissions.

The minutes of a recent presentation to the CSU Board of Governors lay out the challenge in stark language:

"Dr. Frank then asked Vice President of Operations Amy Parsons to make her presentation of the Climate Action Plan, which it was concluded was far too ambitious a goal when it was conceived and needed to be scaled back considerably," the minutes say.

One major challenge for... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The collapse last week of a deal to build a massive electricity-generating wind farm on CSU's Maxwell Ranch highlights the university's struggles to significantly cut its consumption of fossil fuels and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

While Colorado State University has made a series of small- and medium-sized steps, administrators say transforming the university's operations will take far longer than initially expected.

Fort Collins campus President Tony Frank acknowledges that the 2008 plan to "rapidly" become carbon-neutral won't be a reality for decades because the university can't afford to make major changes right now. Former CSU President Larry Penley had proposed the university become carbon-neutral by 2020 and signed CSU onto a national effort by colleges and universities to cut emissions.

The minutes of a recent presentation to the CSU Board of Governors lay out the challenge in stark language:

"Dr. Frank then asked Vice President of Operations Amy Parsons to make her presentation of the Climate Action Plan, which it was concluded was far too ambitious a goal when it was conceived and needed to be scaled back considerably," the minutes say.

One major challenge for CSU is that its emissions have actually been going up in recent years. In fiscal year 2006, CSU emitted 217,070 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Those emissions rose 7 per-cent by 2009. The university counts emissions for every-thing from electrical power generation and faculty com-muting to air travel by students studying abroad. And when it builds new buildings and admits additional students, the demand generally goes up.

In order to significantly reduce emissions, CSU would have to dramatically shift where it gets its power and dramatically reduce the amount of power it uses. Most of the electricity in Colorado comes from coal-fired power plants and, increasingly, from burning natural gas. But making that shift is expensive because CSU uses so much electricity, not just for residence halls and classroom buildings, but laboratories filled with power-hungry computers and experimental equipment.

"For us, you'd have to really jack up tuition and put it toward plans like that," Frank said.

Complicating things, the university is getting bigger. And adding buildings generally means adding to the university's overall power consumption.

"We could save a lot of energy by sending the students home, sending the researchers home. But that's not what we do here," said Carol Dollard, who helps coordinate CSU's climate-action efforts. "We're adding students, adding buildings."


Source: http://www.coloradoan.com/a...

DEC 18 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/29367-wind-farm-future-questionable-but-csu-committed-to-reducing-emissions
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