The Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership released the top 50 purchasers of green energy in the country. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is #5 on the list. The state’s annual purchases totaled 500 million green kilowatt hours, equivalent to 50% of total power consumption. Also in the top 50 from Pennsylvania are several universities, including:
- University of Pennsylvania (#19; 202 million KWh; 48% of electricity consumption)
- Carnegie Mellon University (#44; 87 million KWh; 75% of electricity consumption); and
- Pennsylvania State University (#46; 84 million KWh; 20% of electricity consumption).
Out of curiosity, I translated these figures into KWh per student:
- The University of Pennsylvania had 24,599 total students (full-time and part-time combined) as of the Fall 2009. Extrapolating from the figures above, UPenn consumes approximately 420,503,333 KWh annually. That equates to 17,095 KWh per student.
- Carnegie Mellon University had 11,443 total students as of the Fall 2009. Extrapolating from the figures above, CMU consumes approximately 115,786,667 KWh annually, or 10,119 KWh per student.
- The Pennsylvania State University had 95,833 total students as of the Fall 2010. PSU consumes approximately 418,000,000 KWh annually, or 4,362 KWh per student.
Obviously, these are wide ranges and should be interpreted with care. Students are only one source of electricity demand on a college campus. Moreover, it is not clear whether the figures for Penn State on the EPA website are for just the University Park campus, or for all the Commonwealth Campuses (out of convenience I have assumed the latter). If instead, these figures are for University Park only, then PSU’s electricity consumption for this campus only would jump to 9,493 KWh per student. Additionally, the Penn State University Park campus steam plant consumes about 7,500 tons of coal per year, and produces about 20,000 MWh per year, or 7% of the campus’s electricity demand, as well as about 175 tons of steam per hour, which is used for heating campus buildings. To make an apples to apples comparison, this would also need to be factored in to the calculations.