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UC Santa Cruz Students Underwrite Green Energy for Their Campus

Students pay for renewable energy certificates through their college to lead the country in green energy adoption.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported in May, 2008 that UC Santa Cruz is the sixth-largest buyer of renewable energy among college campuses nationwide.

The campus is the only California college that made the list of 18 using more than 10 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy per year. 16% of the energy PG&E provides to UCSC is from renewable sources, but last academic year the campus also bought 57 million kilowatt hours of "green" energy from the utility giant to be used elsewhere on the power grid.

The $89,000 investment, paid through student fees, makes up the remaining 84 percent of power UCSC receives from traditional sources. In May 2006, students passed a $3 quarterly tuition increase to support buying renewable energy.

UCSC contracts with Sterling Planet to purchase renewable energy certificates that pay for power generated by wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, biomass and landfill gas.

Although the "green" energy UCSC buys is used elsewhere, the net effect is that the campus is buying 100 percent renewable energy and reducing its carbon footprint. Officials say the campus is working to provide more on-site renewable energy sources, including installing more solar panels and possibly wind turbines near the Long Marine Laboratory on the coast.

The University of Pennsylvania and New York University topped the EPA's list of 2007-08 College & University Green Power Champions.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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