The University of Michigan (U-M) says it is on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly following an agreement to buy renewable energy through DTE Energy, which will result in about half of the purchased electricity for the Ann Arbor campus coming from Michigan-sourced renewable resources.
U-M has committed to purchase about 200,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of renewable energy, annually, beginning in 2021 through DTE Energy. The agreement is made possible through DTE’s MIGreenPower program, a voluntary renewable energy program that enables residential and commercial customers to attribute up to 100% of their energy use to Michigan-made wind and solar projects.
“Reducing the greenhouse gas footprint of electricity that U-M purchases was a key recommendation made by members of our campus community,” said U-M President Mark Schlissel. “This agreement will help us achieve our existing GHG reduction goal, and is an important step on our university’s road to carbon neutrality.”
U-M’s renewable energy purchase will remove nearly 141,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually — the greenhouse gas equivalent of taking more than 30,000 cars off the road for a year.
“We are excited that the University of Michigan has selected MIGreenPower to help achieve its emission reduction targets and appreciate their participation in this program,” said Trevor F. Lauer, President and COO of DTE Electric. “Reducing carbon emissions and supporting our state’s clean energy economy are top priorities for DTE — in fact, we just accelerated our own carbon reduction targets by a decade and will reduce emissions by at least 80% by 2040.”
DTE plans to build or acquire additional renewable projects and expand MIGreenPower to meet increasing customer demand. As the state’s largest producer of renewable energy, DTE will more than double its renewable energy generation by 2024, investing an additional $2 billion. The company also is in the process of expanding its MIGreenPower program options, creating more opportunities for customers who want to support different types of renewable energy projects.
“U-M joins both Ford and General Motors in choosing MIGreenPower to help meet enterprise sustainability targets,” added Lauer. “The program is a great way for residential, business and commercial customers to reduce their carbon footprint easily and affordably.”
Currently, the majority of U-M’s emissions come from natural gas, for which there is no readily available substitute at the scale needed to support the mission of the university, including life-saving research, supporting thousands of students who live on campus and a 24-7 medical center. The U-M President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality is working to develop recommendations for all three U-M campuses to achieve carbon neutrality in the form of scalable and transferable solutions to be used by other institutions and larger communities to achieve the same goal.
The commission includes U-M faculty, staff and external partners, including representation from DTE Energy to leverage its work to develop carbon-reduction strategies to shift to more renewable or lower-carbon energy sources.