- California's public university system announced earlier this month a commitment to 100% clean electricity supplies by 2025, 20 years ahead of the goal that the state recently enacted.
- The University of California (UC), comprised of 10 campuses and additional facilities, set clean energy and sustainability goals, including a pledge to not use natural gas for space and water heating in new buildings or major renovations after June 2019.
- The UC has set clean energy targets since 2004, "always committing to goals that are ahead of the state's goals," UC sustainability director Matt St. Clair said, in order to serve as an example in climate action and renewable energy leadership. The UC anticipates making this switch without increasing their utility bills or the campus budget.
As the state moves toward its 2045 goal for 100% clean energy — approved Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown, D — the public university system seeks to show the state how it's done, claiming it can set an example by transitioning with low financial impact.
"We've committed to 100% clean electricity because we can do that for the same or less than we were paying for brown electricity," St. Clair told Utility Dive.
Several UC campuses are powered by microgrid applications that use a combined heat and power (CHP) natural gas plant. The goals state that by 2025, at least 40% of on-site natural gas combustion will be biogas.
"Over the long term, we will be transitioning away from natural gas, but currently the gas fired CHP plants are a core part of our resilient, efficient microgrids," St. Clair said.
The schools have 40 MW of onsite renewable energy generation, with an additional 20 to 30 MW in planning stages. The UC made the largest purchase of solar electricity of any university in the country three years ago by purchasing 80 MW of solar PV in Fresno County to power campuses.
"Hopefully we're leading by example to show other universities how they can transition to 100% clean electricity in the near term as well," St. Clair said.
Other schools have already committed to power their campus with 100% renewable electricity, such as Cornell University's 2035 goal.
Update: The headline of this piece previously referred to "California state universities." It has been updated to clarify that the University of California system, and not California State University, committed to the 100% clean energy pledge.