One of the biggest universities in one of the U.S’s biggest coal-producing states finally announced that it will transition away from coal-fired power in the next three years.
Officials from Penn State Univeristy said the school will invest up to $35 million to convert its on-campus coal-fired steam plant to natural gas by 2014.
The plant is located in the heart of Penn State’s campus, where it produces steam heat for 270 buildings on campus. Officials said that by using natural gas rather than coal the school will lower its carbon emissions by 37 percent.
When students learned the school was considering installing expensive coal scrubbers to meet new regulations their efforts became even more urgent as the expense of adding scrubbers would have locked the school into coal dependence for years to come, reports Sierra Club Student Coalition.
But, as students with Eco-Action point out, studies have shown that while natural gas creates less greenhouse gas than coal when burned, that doesn’t include factors such as the fossil fuels burned while developing wells, transporting gas and building pipelines.
The move from coal to natural gas is a big first step, but students are determined not to let it be the last. Eventually, students hope to see the university run entirely on renewable energy – including both the energy they produce on campus and the power they purchase from the electricity grid (Sierra Club).
PSU is the ninth university to pledge to end their coal use on campus since the Sierra Student Coalition started its national effort to move the nation’s universities entirely of coal-generated power.
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Image Credit: Sierra Student Coalition