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Monday, December 21, 2009

Doyle backs off vow to take UWSP 'off the grid'

From an Associated Press article by Ryan J. Foley in the Green Bay Press Gazette:

MADISON — Gov. Jim Doyle has backed off a campaign promise that the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and three other UW campuses will be energy independent by 2012 after determining it was not practical as proposed.

Weeks before he was re-elected in 2006, Doyle said campuses would “go off the grid” by becoming the first state agencies to purchase or produce as much energy from renewable sources as they consume. He said they would achieve that by replacing fossil fuels with cleaner energy sources like solar, wind and biomass.

The goal has since been changed to require the campuses to sharply reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, instead of ending them altogether or going off the grid entirely, by 2012. The change came into public view this month during a Board of Regents meeting.

Some university officials say the original plan never made much sense because “going off the grid” would have required them to start producing their own electricity instead of buying it from utilities, which was not feasible or cost-effective.

At the same time, they credit the challenge with spurring them to conserve energy, study alternative fuels, and purchase more renewable sources from the utilities that provide their electricity.

Doyle told reporters Wednesday his original vision may have been unrealistic because of the challenges associated with producing energy on campuses, but the program would still motivate students and university employees to reduce pollution.

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