Higher-ed consortium partners on renewable energy

Cornell Chronicle August 12, 2020
Large solar array owned by Cornell as seen from above
One of Cornell's existing solar farms as seen from above. | Photo by Cornell University
 

Cornell is among 21 higher-education institutions in New York that submitted a collaborative request for proposals to purchase electricity from new renewable energy sources built over the next 2 ½ years in New York state.

Along with SUNY system administration, Cornell is part of the New York Higher Education Large Scale Renewable Energy consortium that is seeking to purchase electricity from large-scale renewable energy projects. Also in the consortium are 16 SUNY campuses and three other private higher education institutions, including Ithaca College.

“Higher education continues to be a testbed of new thinking, technologies and resources, and [the RFP] launch shows how our colleges and universities can collaborate to drive new renewable energy sources, which can then make it more affordable for commercial and private use,” Kristina M. Johnson, the former SUNY chancellor, said earlier this summer. Johnson left SUNY in July and will become president of The Ohio State University on Sept. 1.Technologies such as solar, wind and hydroelectric could be considered as part of the solicited requests for proposals (RFP). Released earlier this summer, the RFP demonstrates an innovative collective bidding model in an effort to lower financial barriers and reduce risk.

“At the same time,” she said, “COVID has demonstrated how we need to think differently in how we run our institutions, and the timing of this RFP affords [the consortium] the opportunity to better manage energy costs for the long term, both fiscally and environmentally.”

The consortium is looking to secure at least 150,000 annual megawatt hours of renewable energy – enough to power 23,000 homes in New York state for a year, and as much as 600,000 annual megawatt hours. The consortium’s initial purchase of renewable energy will result in procurements for the 21 member institutions. If successful, the purchase would bring Cornell’s total renewable electricity use to 100%.

Future procurements will seek to include sufficient renewable electricity for all 64 SUNY campuses. The consortium hopes to see the new, renewable energy sources online no later than December 2023.

The projects will be developed in New York State. The consortium represents one of the state’s largest aggregated purchases of renewable energy to date and will help move the state closer to meeting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s goal of 100% carbon-free electricity for New York by 2040.

The solicited projects are also anticipated to provide academic and research opportunities for students and faculty.

Participating SUNY campuses include:

  • University at Albany

  • Binghamton University
  • SUNY Cobleskill
  • SUNY Cortland
  • SUNY Empire State College
  • SUNY ESF
  • SUNY Geneseo
  • SUNY Delhi
  • SUNY Maritime
  • SUNY New Paltz
  • SUNY Oneonta
  • SUNY Fredonia
  • Purchase College
  • SUNY Oswego
  • Hudson Valley Community College
  • Onondaga Community College

Participating private institutions:

  • Bard College

  • Cornell University
  • Ithaca College
  • Skidmore College

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