University of Lynchburg has switched to 100 percent renewable electricity using methane gas from landfills.
The official switch came April 22 with a new meter. Randolph, Sweet Briar and Emory & Henry colleges, and Hollins University, are also among the first institutions of higher learning in Virginia to make the change. The colleges are offsetting between 50 and 70 percent of their total carbon footprints.
Steve Bright, University of Lynchburg’s vice president for business and finance, estimates that LC will save at least $1.8 million during the life of the 12-year contract. Collectively, the colleges estimate a savings of between $3.4 million and $6.4 million over the next 12 years.
The five schools have entered into agreements with Collegiate Clean Energy (CCE), an affiliate of Ingenco, Virginia’s largest landfill gas (LFG) to energy operators. Electricity generated from LFG will be delivered to each college through the distribution system owned by Appalachian Power Company.
Landfills account for 35 percent of all manmade methane emissions in the United States, and by capturing those emissions, LFG to energy projects preserve the environment while reducing the need for fossil fuel.
“Landfill gas is 21 times more destructive to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide,” explained Thomas Loehr, president of CCE. “By converting LFG, we all enjoy a dual benefit of reducing greenhouse gases and at the same time producing renewable energy.”
“As with any utility, water, gas, or electric, the distribution system delivers the product,” Loehr explained. “We put 100 percent renewable electricity into the distribution system to cover the colleges’ needs. While we all know that electrons cannot be traced individually, we are displacing the amount of fossil fuel currently being used with electricity generated by landfill gas.”