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Vassar Signs Deal for All-Green Electricity

Vassar College has announced an agreement with its energy provider to purchase electricity generated solely by renewable sources. The new contract with the energy supplier, EDF Energy, is effective in July 2021.

A hydroelectric dam in Beacon NY is one source of power for Vassar’s electricity.Photo: Karl Rabe

The new agreement, announced by Vassar Director of Sustainability Micah Kenfield, accelerates portions of Vassar’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The plan to buy all-renewable energy from its electricity provider had a target completion date of 2022, Kenfield noted.

“Vassar’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 takes a number of forms, and one key component has always been moving to 100-percent renewables,” Kenfield said. “By taking this action now, we will save more than 2,500 metric tons of carbon emissions per year. That’s almost a 10-percent reduction from our baseline year of 2005, the equivalent of taking more than 500 cars off the road.”

Kenfield said the cost of buying electricity generated purely by renewable sources – solar, wind and hydro – will be slightly higher than purchasing power generated by carbon-generating sources. But thanks to a well-timed and expedited contract renewal process overseen by Vassar Director of Purchasing Rosaleen Cardillo and Energy Manager Tom Strumolo, Vassar can leverage the current state of the utility market to pay less under the new agreement than it is currently spending.

Last fall, the Board of Trustees endorsed a $13-million package of energy-saving improvements that will move the college toward its goal of carbon neutrality. The plan also includes the following components:

  • $3.8 million for the completion of an ongoing program to retrofit all lighting fixtures with LED devices;
  • $3.65 million to upgrade the central boiler system to enable the college to shift primarily to using renewable fuel oil;
  • $1.6 million to upgrade heating systems in four to six buildings;
  • $4 million to upgrade the heating and air conditioning system in Chicago Hall and other sites on campus;
  • Expansion of educational efforts on campus about awareness of common-sense energy-saving practices that would further reduce Vassar’s carbon footprint.