UArizona Ranks High Among EPA’s Largest Green Power Users in the U.S.

The University of Arizona has been ranked No. 9 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Top 30 College & University list of the largest green power users from the EPA’s Green Power Partnership – a voluntary program that supports organizations in procuring green power. 

The rankings were announced Monday.

UArizona uses more than 131 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually, which represents more than 67% of the institution’s total electricity use.

The university is also No. 90 on the EPA’s Top 100 list of the largest green power users in the United States.

The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that helps increase green power use among U.S. organizations to advance the American market for green power and the development of green power sources as a way to reduce air pollution and other environmental impacts associated with electricity use. UArizona became a member of the Green Power Partnership earlier this year.

In 2020, the Green Power Partnership had more than 700 partners using nearly 70 billion kilowatt-hours of green power annually. Partners include a wide variety of organizations such as Fortune 500 companies; small- and medium-sized businesses; local, state and federal governments; and colleges and universities.

In May, UArizona began acquiring all its grid-based electricity from renewable sources, cutting the university’s greenhouse gas footprint by nearly one-third.

This was made possible after the university entered into the Large Scale Renewable Energy Agreement with Tucson Electric Power Co. in December 2019. The agreement is the largest of its kind between a university and local utility in North America.

Through the agreement, the campus gets its energy from the Oso Grande Wind Farm in southeastern New Mexico and the Wilmot Energy Center solar-plus-storage system south of Tucson.

The EPA recognition speaks to the agreement’s success, said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins.

“This is an exciting recognition of the work that the University of Arizona and Tucson Electric Power have accomplished together,” he said. “Partnerships like this one are building on our decades of leadership in climate science and enabling the university to become a leader in climate action and resiliency.”

With 47,000 students, 15,500 faculty and staff members and more than $734 million in research activity annually, UArizona uses as much power as about 22,000 average American homes. The amount of energy generated from the agreement with TEP would be enough to provide nearly 12,000 American homes with clean power. The environmental impact is like removing 14,000 cars from the road annually.

“Stakeholders across the University of Arizona, particularly our students, are demanding that we do more to accelerate the transition of our operations to low-carbon alternatives, and this agreement is a huge step in that direction,” said Trevor Ledbetter, director of the university’s Office of Sustainability.

“TEP’s partnership with the University of Arizona has set a new standard for sustainability in our community,” said Susan Gray, TEP president and CEO. “The university’s ambitious renewable energy goals helped us accelerate our own expansion plans for wind and solar resources, contributing to our development of a cleaner, greener grid.”

By moving the needle in the voluntary green power market, UArizona and other Green Power Partners are helping to reduce the negative health impacts of air emissions including those related to ozone, fine particles, acid rain and regional haze, according to the EPA.

“This list of the largest users of green power across the nation is proof that good business practices can also benefit the environment,” said James Critchfield, program manager of EPA’s Green Power Partnership. “EPA applauds the leading organizations in the Green Power Partnership’s Top Partner Rankings for their notable commitment to expanding their use of green power and protecting the environment.”

UArizona is also ranked among the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges by The Princeton Review. UArizona is featured in The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges: 2022 Edition, released Tuesday.

The university received a green rating score of 90, on a scale of 60 to 99. The 420 schools chosen for the guide received scores of 80 or higher.

Colleges were selected based on a survey of administrators at 835 colleges in 2020 and 2021 about their institutions’ commitments to the environment and sustainability. Editors from The Princeton Review analyzed more than 25 survey data points to select the schools.

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