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Green ideas growing at UW-River Falls

University, utilities working toward clean energy future

MARCH 13, 2007--River Falls' energy future is now brighter - and greener - thanks to a collaborative effort between the University of Wisconsin - River Falls (UW-River Falls), community-owned River Falls Municipal Utilities (RFMU), and power supplier Wisconsin Public Power Inc. (WPPI).  

The three entities recently signed a memorandum of understanding outlining their intentions to develop mutually beneficial renewable energy and energy conservation programs, projects and educational activities within the community of River Falls and on the UW-River Falls campus. The collaborative effort was sparked in September 2006, when Gov. Jim Doyle selected the UW-River Falls campus as one of four UW schools that will participate in his "Off-the-Grid Initiative," which sets a goal of achieving energy independence within five years through the use of innovative energy generation methods and the purchase of "green" energy provided by local utilities without the use of fossil fuels.

"University of Wisconsin - River Falls' Strategic Plan for Sustainability calls for us to be a leader in developing a sustainable society," says UW-River Falls Chancellor Don Betz. "Our participation in the Governor's initiative and our cooperative efforts with RFMU and WPPI will help us to advance toward that goal."

UW-River Falls will work with the utility companies to explore a number of energy independence options, including:

•  Purchasing energy generated by renewable resources, such as wind, biofuel and hydroelectric power;
•  Increasing efforts to identify conservation opportunities and reduce overall energy consumption on campus; and
•  Developing renewable energy projects on the UWRF campus.  

In support of the University's efforts, RFMU and WPPI jointly provided $20,000 for construction of an information kiosk in the school's new University Center, which incorporates green building principles in its design and construction. Part of the kiosk will feature renewable energy and energy conservation information from the utility companies.

UW-River Falls students recently voted in favor of allocating a portion of student fees to fund the cost of powering the center with renewable energy purchased from RFMU. The local utility is a national leader in the percentage of its customers who voluntarily purchase electricity generated from renewable resources, which includes power from wind, hydroelectric and biofuels.

"As a community-owned utility, we are committed to meeting our shared responsibility for the environment," says RFMU General Manger Carl Gaulke. "Working together with the University for the benefit of our environment and our community is a partnership that just makes sense."  

In addition to funding the kiosk, WPPI will help identify and pursue cost-effective energy conservation opportunities at the University. Such projects might include harnessing the power of wind on the campus through WPPI's community-based wind power program, which works cooperatively with local leaders, landowners and neighbors to place utility-scale wind turbines in its member communities.

WPPI also will designate up to $90,000 for the purpose of identifying energy conservation projects at UW-River Falls through the Energy Center of Wisconsin, a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving energy sustainability through innovative research and education.

"WPPI is committed to helping our member utilities and their customers become more efficient users of electricity," says President and CEO Roy Thilly. "We're pleased to join the University and River Falls Municipal Utilities in working toward a cleaner energy future."  

WPPI also will work to assist the University in securing recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a Green Power Partner.

Founded in 1874, the University of Wisconsin - River Falls is a public institution of higher education located on more than 700 acres of land in and near the city of River Falls. UWRF strives to be the learning nucleus of the St. Croix Valley, and acts in close collaboration with communities, institutions and private enterprise to create a dynamic economy, sustainable communities, a sustainable environment, and an optimum quality of life.

River Falls Municipal Utilities is a community-owned, environmentally-responsible electric company committed to improving local and global quality of life through active environmental stewardship. The utility serves more than 5,600 homes and businesses, including UW-River Falls.  

Wisconsin Public Power Inc. is a regional power company serving River Falls and 47 other customer-owned electric utilities in Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and Iowa. Through WPPI, these public power utilities share resources and own generation facilities to provide reliable, affordable electricity to 185,000 homes and businesses.


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:08:08 Central Daylight Time


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