Rice students are partnering with the university’s sustainability office to help develop a renewable electricity strategy for the campus. Rice’s Administrative Center for Sustainability and Energy Management (ACSEM) oversees the purchase of utilities for the Rice University campus as part of its portfolio of activities. This procurement responsibility includes electricity, natural gas, water, and sanitary sewer services.
In 2015, the ACSEM team worked directly with Rice’s retail electric provider MP2 Energy to secure a landmark 1-year power purchasing agreement that sourced approximately 7-8% of Rice’s annual purchased electricity from First Solar Inc.’s Barilla Solar Project (located in Pecos County, Texas) at no additional cost to the university. This agreement was renewed in 2016, then expired at the end of the 2016 calendar year, and unfortunately was not available for renewal into 2017.
With the formation of the Rice student organization Texans for Climate Change Action (TFCCA), ACSEM Director Richard Johnson has agreed to include TFCCA as a stakeholder representing student interests in conversations about renewable energy where appropriate. Specifically, he has invited TFCCA to work directly with the ACSEM team to help develop Rice’s renewable electricity strategy and to build upon the past success of the First Solar agreement. The TFCCA students working directly with Johnson and the ACSEM include Meredith Brown (Wiess ‘19), Aitash Deepak (Duncan ‘19), Zoe Parker (Baker ‘19), and Katherine Zoellmer (Duncan ‘20). Their agreed-upon approach is to recommend and pursue economically-viable paths and actions that result in measurable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions related to the supply of electricity.
In a related development, Johnson will partner with Dr. Daniel Cohan’s CEVE 307/507 “Energy and the Environment” course, in which group project teams are investigating a broad range of measures to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions, and will compare those measures using a common metric to identify the most cost-effective steps for achieving reductions. Several TFCCA members are on those project teams.