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CMU sets wind-power standard

| Friday, May 18, 2001

Carnegie Mellon University will become the largest purchaser of wind-generated electricity in the United States this fall.

President Jared L. Cohon said Thursday that CMU has agreed to a one-year contract that will provide the university with 5 percent of its total electricity needs, which will come from a windmill farm now under construction in Fayette County.

CMU's decision to promote clean energy technology comes at a price. Under the agreement, the university will pay $250,000 for the electricity, about $81,000, or nearly 48 percent, more than what it would spend for electricity from traditional sources.

'We are paying a premium for this electricity than from fossil fuel sources, so campus-wide, we have to think of ways to use energy more efficiently and to conserve,' Cohon said.

Cohon will formally announce the deal at the university's commencement Sunday.

CMU's agreement is with Community Energy Inc. and Environmental Defense, a national environmental lobbying organization. Community Energy, based in Wayne, Chester County, promotes environmentally friendly energy use and markets the wind farm's output. New York-based Environmental Defense has 300,000 members and works with institutions to promote clean energy production and use.

Yesterday, Cohon said a convergence of events that started three years ago made the plan possible. 'We had a desire to enhance our environmental research and technology program, and at that point, we decided to look at our own environmental practices,' Cohon said.

The university's environmental practices committee recommended 'we look at some other power sources than traditional fossil fuels,' Cohon said.

The amount of electricity CMU will buy, 4,778 megawatt hours, is equivalent to that used by 650 homes in a year.

'By making the largest retail wind purchase ever, Carnegie Mellon University is leading the way for all of us,' said Brent Alderfer, president of Community Energy. 'In a time of talk of an impending energy crisis, it is both satisfying and responsible to use energy that generates no pollution and uses no fuel, neither domestic nor imported.'

The university's supply contracts with Duquesne Light Co. also are expiring, so lining up an additional supplier became an opportunity. But the wind-driven electricity plant was already under construction when the agreement was reached.

'Developing new technologies, policies and practices to protect and enhance our global environment is one of our strategic priorities,' Cohon said.

The Exelon-Community Energy Wind Farm at Mill Run is under construction in Fayette County's Springfield and Stewart townships, about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

The $18 million plant will be composed of 10 turbines, each generating 1.5 megawatts of power and each mounted on 231-foot-high towers.

The wind farm will occupy 10 to 12 acres of an open, ridge-top pasture at an elevation of 2,700 to 2,900 feet.

'The university's purchase of wind power sends the clear signal that clean, renewable energy is a viable resource that will help reduce dependence on fossil fuels,' said Fred Krupp, executive director of Environmental Defense.

The Mill Run project is the third wind-powered energy operation in Pennsylvania. A 10.4 megawatt, eight-turbine wind farm in Garrett, Somerset County, provides electricity to customers of alternative energy supplier Green Mountain Energy.

Another energy station, with two windmills, is in Hazelton in the Poconos.

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