UB's New Policy For Buying Electricity Emphasizes Conservation, "Clean" Power Sources

Release Date: May 8, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- While "cost" still heads the shopping list, "environmentally clean" has been added as a factor to be considered when the University at Buffalo shops for electricity now that New York State's electric industry is being deregulated.

UB's new policy requires that all electric purchases be compatible with campus energy- conservation efforts and thus sustain or enhance UB's nationally recognized campus energy-conservation program -- not undermine it.

The policy has been approved by UB President William R. Greiner and Senior Vice President Robert J. Wagner, and is being implemented by University Facilities, with support from the Office of Purchasing and other university offices.

"With choice comes responsibility," said UB Energy Officer Walter Simpson. "Through our new policy, we also will consider buying power from environmentally clean sources, even though this energy may cost more."

He noted that the State University of New York system, of which UB is the largest campus, also has agreed to include in its electricity purchasing request for proposals a section on "environmentally friendly power."

Those power sources could include solar and wind power, fuel cells, natural gas-fired cogeneration and landfill gas-fired generation.

Simpson said that while electricity from solar and wind power and fuel cells is not readily available in New York State at this time, it is important for a major energy consumer like UB to specify that it is a potential customer.

"By making this statement, we're trying to help create a market for environmentally clean power in New York State," said Simpson, noting that such markets already exist in California and some other states.

According to Simpson, competition in the electric marketplace will permit ratepayers to select their power provider and likely will allow some users, particularly large ones, like the university, to buy energy more cheaply.

At the same time, he warned, deregulation is likely to encourage "use more, pay less" policies that reward energy waste.

"In the absence of stronger, clean-air standards, the pursuit of cheap power may lead to increased coal burning at the dirtiest power plants, with resultant increases in climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, which cause acid rain," he said.

According to UB's policy, electric rates should be structured to provide financial incentives for energy conservation and efficiency.

Disincentives, such as declining block or marginal rate structures, should be avoided, while flat rates, which maintain incentives, should be pursued.

In addition, UB may attempt to negotiate electricity purchase agreements that include energy-efficiency services, such as lighting retrofits and other energy-conservation measures.

At an annual cost of $15 million and annual consumption of nearly 210 million kilowatt hours, electricity consumption represents one of UB's most significant campus energy costs.

The campus energy policy was developed by UB's Environmental Task Force, a group of faculty and staff members and students who are committed to minimizing the university's negative impact on the environment.

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