YCC calls on University to improve energy policies

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Earth Day may be over, but for some Yale students, it never ends.

Last week, the Yale College Council passed an energy reform resolution calling on Yale Provost Susan Hockfield to push the University toward more environmentally-friendly energy policies. The Yale Advisory Committee on Environmental Management, or ACEM, recommended to Hockfield that the University purchase 2.5 percent of its power with “Green Tags,” which are renewable energy credits Yale can buy for wind power or other renewable energy to supplement its traditional power supply.

The YCC resolution also recommended Yale join the “20 Percent by 2010″ campaign, which is a statewide non-for-profit initiative devoted to making 20 percent of Connecticut’s energy supply come from clean, renewable resources by 2010. If Yale were to join the campaign, it could use a modified formula where energy conservation could replace some of the “Green Tags.” “Green Tags” represent the real savings in carbon dioxide and other pollutants that occur when “green power” replaces burning fossil fuel.

“We realize buying 20 percent is a huge investment,” YCC Treasurer-elect Andrew Cedar ’06 said. “So the 20 percent can be split between conservation and renewable [energy]. Hopefully, 2.5 percent will be the baseline — 2.5 percent is not an unsizeable amount, considering how much energy Yale uses.”

Cedar said Hockfield will most likely make her decision, based on ACEM’s recommendations, sometime during the summer.

Cedar said he first became interested in renewable energy after reading about other institutions’ policies. Connecticut College currently purchases 22 percent of its energy through “Green Tags,” while the University of Pennsylvania purchases wind power. Yale currently uses no renewable energy and has no aggressive energy conservation campaign, he said.

Proposal co-author and ACEM energy sub-committee member Judith Joffe-Block ’04 said the University is “wasteful” with its energy use. She said if Yale purchased these tags, it would help crack down on fossil-fuel burning plants out of state, which directly affect air quality in Connecticut.

“Since dirty power generation in the Midwest is known to contribute to New England air quality problems, Yale can improve local air quality by purchasing Green Tags that would support renewable energy projects in places like Ohio,” Joffe-Block said.

Joffe-Block said ACEM also recommended purchasing tags from the greater New England area upwind of New Haven in order to offset some of their dirty power.

Yale currently contracts out for approximately 44 percent of the energy it needs to power central campus. Yale’s power plant produces the rest and recently received a $460,000 fine for clean air violations.

Joffe-Block said the acceptance of such a proposal would also improve town-gown relations.

“This is a really exciting project in terms of the wider city movement — It’s part of Yale being a good neighbor, particularly in light of the new fines from the Department of Environmental Protection,” Joffe-Block said.

Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04 and Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Susan Voigt have co-sponsored a resolution encouraging New Haven to join the “20 Percent by 2010″ campaign.

Proposal co-author Andrew Kroon ’04 said the YCC’s support shows the student body backs ACEM’s proposal.

Joffe-Block cited Yale’s recent purchase of a high-efficiency fuel cell for the Environmental Sciences building as an indication that the University is beginning to take the environment seriously.

“[The University] is definitely taking good steps,” Joffe-Block said.

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