Next step: cleaner energy


As we approach the 45th anniversary of Earth Day April 22, we are mindful of the ways Spartans work every day to “Be Spartan Green” through our campus sustainability initiative. Our recent “conversation on energy” at the Kellogg Center was a great opportunity for the campus community to learn about MSU’s progress in conserving energy and to discuss alternatives with some of our energy partners.

I was particularly pleased to announce that MSU’s power plant will convert from coal fuel to cleaner natural gas in the next year or so. This is a welcome and significant step in our three-year-old Energy Transition Plan toward an eventual goal of 100 percent renewable energy use. Costly pending federal emissions regulations and a new domestic energy landscape favoring natural gas make this a very good time to take that step.

Maintaining a reliable, affordable source of energy is no small matter for a university of MSU’s scale. We rely on our 50-year-old power plant for both electricity and steam heat, but over time campus demand for electricity has increasingly outstripped demand for heat. A utility substation we are adding to supply the new Facility for Rare Isotope Beams with commercially sourced electricity also may allow us to restore the power plant to a more efficient balance.

We are especially optimistic about prospects for progress through another element of our transition plan—reviewing proposals from prospective partners to add more renewable energy into the mix. Details are still in the works, but we have high hopes for an exciting sustainable energy program to recommend to the Board of Trustees in the near future.

Kermit the Frog had it right when he sang, “It isn’t easy being green.” As with all of the most consequential environmental and energy issues confronting the world, MSU’s path toward energy sustainability will involve tough choices. There certainly will be costs and trade-offs.

But that’s how most progress is made—one challenging step at a time. And today, we can feel good about the plans and the choices we’re making.

Another way to feel good about MSU is to take part in the annual SPARTANS WILL. POWER Global Day of Service April 18. It demonstrates the extraordinary impact Spartans make, even in one day, when they come together to serve others in communities around the world. And it demonstrates the extraordinary reach and power of the Spartan network. Join us!


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