MSU's renewable energy initiative

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By Sean Deters
Entirely East Lansing

A panel that included Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon spoke about the university’s growing role in alternative energy research and development. The conversation was streamed online at energytransition.msu.edu. on April 8.

Michigan State will end its coal use entirely by the end of 2016, according to Simon. The other panelists were optimistic about the role that Michigan State is currently playing and what the future holds for sustainable energy practices.

“Michigan State is ideal to lead this campaign because we generate our own electric and thermal power, we have enough land to try new solutions and we are a top research university with leading experts to try and solve the energy problem,” said Wolfgang Bauer, a senior consultant for admission services at Michigan State.

Customer First Renewables, located in Maryland, is working with the university to build wind turbines on campus.

“These efforts will save Michigan State money in the future,” said President and CEO of Customer First Renewables, Gary Farha.

Implementing energy policy that is clean, reliable and affordable is not only suitable for the environment, but for students who want to work in the renewable energy field as well. Gary Rochow, vice president of customer experience for Consumers Energy, said the partnership between Consumers Energy and Michigan State provides students with job opportunities.

“We want progressive, well-educated students to come work for us,” said Rochow.

Simon said the energy transition is going to change how professors teach and how students learn. In the next 20 years, teaching and learning will be more hands-on and technology intensive.

Simon urged the Michigan State community to make the energy transition a priority and to set the example for others to follow.

“Part of this is a cultural change, not a technology change. The real challenge for Michigan State is to not chase numbers, but to think about renewable energy on a regular basis and lead a truly spartan green lifestyle,” said Simon.

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