UW-Oshkosh: leads Wisconsin in renewable energy use

CONTACT: Chancellor Richard H. Wells, (920) 424-0200

OSHKOSH – As the nation grapples with a growing energy crisis, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh remains the largest purchaser of renewable energy in Wisconsin.

Since Jan. 1, the university has purchased 11 percent of its electricity from Wisconsin Public Service through the utility’s NatureWise renewable energy program. That includes a mix of wind and biomass energy from a dairy farm and landfill in northeast Wisconsin.

Using renewable energy cuts the demand for oil.

UW-Oshkosh ranks 23rd among all U.S. colleges and universities using renewable energy, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

UW-Oshkosh was the first Wisconsin campus and the 10th campus nationwide to join the EPA renewable energy initiative in 2003. Since Jan. 1, 2004, it has purchased 3 percent or more of its energy through the WPS NatureWise program.

“UW-Oshkosh prides itself on being a national leader in energy conservation, resource preservation and the practice of ‘green’ principles in all areas of campus life,” said Chancellor Richard H. Wells.

WPS’s Chip Bircher, manager of the NatureWise program, said UW-Oshkosh will be the largest purchaser of green power in the state for the third year in a row. In 2006, he said, a total of 3,465 megawatt-hours of campus power will come from renewable energy.

UW-Green Bay also will become a major purchaser of renewable energy from WPS in September, when it is scheduled to begin purchasing 10 percent, or 1,776 megawatt-hours, of its annual energy through NatureWise.

“Wisconsin Public Service is pleased with the environmental lead that UW-Oshkosh again has taken with the increase in its purchase of green power in northeastern Wisconsin,” said Charlie Schrock, president and chief operating officer-generation of Wisconsin Public Service Corp.

The increase in campus use of renewable energy is just the latest move by UW-Oshkosh to implement “green” principles across campus.

In mid-March, construction begins on a new, $21-million Student Recreation and Wellness Center using LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. The architect for a $48-million academic building is also LEED-certified.

The campus reduced its annual utility costs by nearly $170,000 through five energy- and water-conservation projects in 2001. Another nine projects, which will cut annual utility costs another $92,000, are currently underway, including lighting and technology upgrades and water and energy conservation projects. One will be the addition of sensors to reduce the energy consumption of campus vending machines.

An analysis by WPS showed the campus has reduced its energy consumption about 1,000 megawatt-hours from 2003 to the end of 2005. UW-Oshkosh has hired two student interns to collect and analyze energy data to see if the campus can further reduce energy and utility consumption.

That project is being done with the help of a $30,000 grant from Johnson Controls Inc. of Milwaukee, the firm recently visited by President Bush to push his national energy initiatives. The UW-Oshkosh project will set energy benchmarks that will be a model for college campuses nationwide.

UW-Oshkosh hosts the world’s largest Earth Charter Community Summit and has won several environmental awards, including the 2003-2004 National Wildlife Federation Campus Ecology Recognition Award and EPA’s Green Power Leadership Award in 2003 and Energy Star Award recently.