SEA Awarded Clean Energy Prize

Mark Fuller

Leaders of Students for Environmental Action (SEA) will meet in the President’s Office to present Rebecca Chopp with a national award and over 100,000 hours of metaphorical energy at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, February 21. No, this is not a stunt. Recently, SEA members participated in a national campaign against dirty energy run by a youth environmental group called Energy Action. The campaign was a nationwide competition in which different environmental groups strove to collect the most signatures against the use of fossil fuels and in favor of clean energy sources, such as solar, wind and geothermal. Supported by such organizations as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) and the League of Conservation Voters, Energy Action promised to award 105,000 kilo-watt hours of clean energy to each of the top 10 finishing groups. Out of the 280 student groups – both large and small – who participated in the drive nationwide, Colgate University finished in a remarkable second place. “This is the first time this has been done,” SEA student leader senior Bob Filbin. “I believe it is one of the largest student-led petition campaigns to have happened in the U.S.” The petition, totaling 27,000 signatures, was sent to Washington on November 16. Colgate’s contribution alone counted for more than four percent of the 27,000 signatures collected by the 280 different groups. “Colgate managed to collect 1,155 signatures, putting us in second place behind UCLA,” Filbin said. The second place finish seems that much more impressive considering that many of the schools involved, such as UCLA and UC Santa Crus, are much larger than Colgate. The achievement never would have been possible, though, without the hard work and commitment of SEA members. The dedication required to get a petition signed by more than a third of the student body is quite notable. “This confirms what I’ve learned about Colgate students over the last few years,” Vice President for Administration Mark Spiro said. “They are vitally interested in helping us maintain a clean, healthy and environmentally-responsible and responsive environment. Simply put- they walk the talk.” Beyond the honor of the second-place finish is the actual reward. As an incentive, Energy Action awarded renewable energy certificates (RECs) to the top 10 finishers. “We will be provided 105,000 kilowatt hours worth of renewable energy certificates, which were donated by seven U.S. power companies,” Filbin said. “To put that number in perspective, the average house uses 500 kilowatt hours in a month.” To use a local example, the amount of energy granted by these certificates would be more than enough to power the James B. Colgate Hall Admissions Building for the entire spring semester. Colgate does not use fossil fuel energy, however, so the certificates will be sent where they are most needed, namely to the Western U.S. “The renewable energy certificates mean that instead of buildings out west using fossil fuels – which they would normally be using – 105,000 kilowatt hours of additional energy will be produced for them to use in Colgate’s name,” Filbin said, “thus keeping approximately 150,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.” The receipt of the RECs is an achievement for the Colgate community and anyone who understands the direness of America’s energy situation. SEA members hope their efforts and subsequent success will further garner student support for a renewable energy economy.