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Frequently Asked Questions
Can we actually do this?
[How feasible is it for Loyola to source 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the 2019 Fiscal Year (June 30, 2019)?]
Yes, Loyola could purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), which are inexpensive (<$1/MWh), tomorrow. However, through an offsite project, Loyola could reduce electricity costs while moving to 100% renewables. Currently the Midwest Higher Education Council (MHEC) is spearheading an effort for universities to collaborate and aggregate their purchasing of renewable electricity from an off site project. Loyola’s Facilities department has expressed initial interest in this effort and attended a recent (Feb 21, 2018) workshop on the initiative, which Loyola hosted at the Water Tower campus. The current MHEC timeline is for a contract to be signed by the end of this calendar year (i.e. December 2018). Therefore, it is highly feasible for Loyola to transition to 100% renewables by the end of the 2019 Fiscal Year.
SGLC and SEA recommend a portfolio (or “all-of-the-above”) approach to purchasing 100% renewables, which means
1) maximizing on-site solar,
2) going big on a large-scale offsite project, and
3) filling in the remaining gap with RECs.
Will this increase tuition?
No, Loyola can reduce operating expenses (save money) by purchasing 100% renewables. More specifically, by signing a good deal -- Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the bulk of Loyola’s electricity from a large-scale wind or solar project -- Loyola can pay less (in $/MWh) for electricity than the wholesale grid price, which means cost savings.
“Rapid cost declines made renewable energy the United States’ cheapest available source of new electricity, without subsidies, in 2017.” - Forbes article
“The cost of electricity from renewable energy technologies has fallen steadily, and even dramatically, in recent years. This is especially the case since 2000, with the rise of solar and wind power generation as viable commercial options. Today, power generation from renewable sources and technologies has become increasingly competitive with, or indeed, least costly than, fossil-based or nuclear power.” - IRENA report
Will this make Loyola carbon neutral?
No, but we will be well on our way. Loyola’s Climate Action Plan shows that purchased electricity accounts for 50% of Loyola’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. By purchasing 100% renewable electricity, Loyola will mitigate these emissions entirely, cutting our carbon footprint in half.
Is this the same as fossil fuel divestment?
No, divestment involves removing Loyola’s financial investments (ie. stocks, bonds, etc) from fossil fuel companies (ie. Exxonmobil, Energy Transfer Partners, Peabody Energy, etc). Purchasing renewable electricity means Loyola no longer will power the university (ie. keep the lights on, power computers, etc) with electricity sourced from coal, natural gas, and nuclear power plants but from renewable plants (ie. wind or solar).
Both fossil fuel divestment and purchasing renewable electricity are powerful ways to demonstrate climate action and expedite our country and world’s much needed transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
Why and how are universities leading on renewable energy?
“Higher Education: Leading the Nation to a Safe and Secure Energy Future” by Second Nature, the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), and the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment Link
“Green Power Partnership: Top 30 College & University” by the United States Environmental Protection Agency Link
“Assessing the High Education Sector’s Use of Renewable Energy” by Jennifer Andrews, Dovev Levine, and Chris O’Brien from the University of New Hampshire’s Sustainability Institute and Edison Energy Link
Who is working on this initiative?
Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC)
Contact: Chief Sustainability Officer, Jaycie Weathers, firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Environmental Alliance