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Oberlin Electricity Nearly 90% Renewable

March 1, 2016

Did you know the power supply serving the City of Oberlin will be 89% renewable by 2017? Joint ventures in hydro and wind projects and multiple power purchase agreements (PPAs) in landfill gas generation, hydro, and wind make Oberlin’s power supply almost completely powered by renewable sources. Currently, the electricity portfolio for the entire City of Oberlin hovers around 86% renewable!

Oberlin has been touted as a sustainability leader for a long time, but this is one concrete example of this leadership that sets Oberlin apart from many other places. “Oberlin has become a leader in sustainability for other towns in Ohio,” said City of Oberlin’s Energy Services and Sustainability Initiatives Manager, Doug McMillan. “For perspective, the last percent I saw for the National Grid average was 12 percent.”

The College purchases electricity from Oberlin Municipal Light and Power System (OMLPS), which allows us to work together towards our shared goals. The College has a goal of carbon neutrality by 2025, while the City has pledged to be climate positive by 2050. The College electric supply incorporates the already green portfolio of OMLPS and enhanced by four solar arrays throughout our College campus. As a result, the College’s electricity supply is almost entirely renewable! In 2012, the College installed the 2.27 MW solar array. This array was designed to supply the college about 12% of its electricity usage.

As for the City, with the combination of the PPAs for renewable energy purchasing, energy efficiency projects, and the College contributions of installing a large solar array and converting the heating plant from coal to natural gas, the community has HALVED its carbon emissions in three years. In 2007, the City of Oberlin produced 158, 206 MT CO2e (87,300 tons of emissions of that was from electricity); in 2012, total emissions were 113,832 MT CO2e (62,424 from electricity); in 2015, total emissions were 56,866 MT CO2e (11,691 from electricity). This is a dramatic progress. For context: in the year 2000, Oberlin College’s emissions were around 50,417 tons of CO2e. Fifteen years later, the entire City of Oberlin, including the College, emissions were only that much more than the College’s alone at the start of Y2K.

Oberlin’s renewable energy comes from various sources; the largest source is landfill gas at 55% followed by hydropower at 24%. Oberlin’s electric renewable power portfolio includes methane gas generation from three projects in Ohio, hydro power from six hydroelectric plants on the Ohio River, wind power from two projects in Ohio, and the 2.27 MW solar project at Oberlin College. Most of our power is located in the State of Ohio. OMLPS is a member of a consortium of municipal utilities, called American Municipal Power (AMP). AMP communities join together to complete projects for their home communities that wouldn’t be cost-effective or feasible if these cities were on their own. Learn more about the specific projects and their locations, AMP, and OLMPS at: http://www.cityofoberlin.com/city-government/departments/omlps/environmental-strategies/.

Full article can be read here: http://new.oberlin.edu/office/environmental-sustainability/update_detail.dot?id=e58e2a5a-fac3-474a-8e34-099c32c2f1f1