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Student Senate supports proposal to power new Davies Center with renewable energy

May 3, 2012

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Student Senate this week unanimously approved a proposal to offset 100 percent of the electricity used to power the new Davies Center with renewable energy from Xcel Energy's Windsource program.

Windsource, one of the nation's leading voluntary green power programs, allows residential and business customers to purchase 100 kilowatt-hour blocks of renewable energy for a small fee above the existing electric rate. Windsource, which requires a one-year commitment, currently costs $1.37 per 100 kWh block.

The Student Senate's proposal will allow UW-Eau Claire to meet renewable energy goals without installing costly renewable energy technology, said Tyrel Zich, an intern in the Student Office of Sustainability.

The additional Windsource fee will go directly to supporting renewable energy projects within Xcel Energy's service territory, said James Hanke, community service manager for Xcel Energy. The energy provided for Windsource in Wisconsin is generated from wind farms in Minnesota, he said. With the Student Senate's purchase, UW-Eau Claire will become one of the largest Windsource customers in Wisconsin, Hanke said.

"We are excited to work with UW-Eau Claire to help them reduce their carbon footprint," Hanke said. "Windsource is a great option for the university because they can power the new student center with 100 percent renewable energy without making a capital investment in new equipment and installation."

In the proposal approved by the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate, up to 997,590 kWh worth of renewable energy will be purchased through Windsource at an annual cost of $13,667, Zich said, noting it will offset the remaining electricity not already purchased by UW System. The Wisconsin Department of Administration currently purchases renewable energy credits on behalf of the UW System, offsetting between 15-20 percent of UW-Eau Claire's total electricity consumption.

The funds for the Windsource purchase will come from the Environmental Responsibility Account managed by the Student Office of Sustainability, a commission of the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate. This fund, totaling $200,000 per year to be spent on sustainable campus projects, is supported by a fee of approximately $10 per semester per student.

The Student Office of Sustainability and Xcel Energy will introduce the program and highlight the benefits of Windsource in the fall during the new Davies Center's grand opening.

For more information, contact Tyrel Zich at 715-577-1570 or zichtj@uwec.edu; or visit the Excel Energy renewable energy website.

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