Carbon-Free By 2040

News Briefs
Photo of solar panels on the roof of the Whitney Applied Technology Center.
OCC's solar array is pictured on the roof of the Whitney Applied Technology Center. The photo was taken with the college's drone, "Lazer One."

Onondaga Community College is teaming up with 20 other colleges and universities in a renewable energy purchasing program. The New York Higher Education Large Scale Renewable Energy (NY HE LSRE) consortium will buy renewable energy at reduced rates. The effort is part of a larger goal aimed at transitioning all schools in the State University of New York (SUNY) system to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040.


“By taking a cooperative approach to the purchase of renewable energy, these campuses will be better able to meet their sustainability goals and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “The consortium provides a cost-effective way of achieving campus carbon neutrality, with the power to transform the regional renewable energy market. It also creates important partnership among New York’s higher education institutions.”

Sean Vormwald, Ph.D.
Sean Vormwald, Ph.D.

“Onondaga is excited to be partnering with other colleges and universities to explore how we may be able to team up on large-scale renewable energy projects,” said Sean Vormwald, Ph.D., Onondaga’s Director of Sustainability and Environmental Health and Safety. “By combining our purchasing power, we expect to be able to identify cost-effective solar or wind energy projects that are consistent with our energy management and sustainability goals.”


The consortium, made up of 16 SUNY campuses and five private colleges, will lower financial barriers to large-scale renewable energy procurement by creating economies of scale and reducing costs for individual campuses. The initial large-scale purchase of renewable energy will eventually result in renewable energy procurements for all 64 SUNY campuses.


NY HE LSRE is working with Edison Energy to solicit long-term power purchase agreements from renewable energy developers through a Request for Proposals. The consortium plans to purchase at least 150,000 annual megawatt hours of renewable energy, enough to power approximately 23,000 homes a year. Edison Energy will work with individual campuses to determine each school’s needs.


In addition to providing a cost-effective way to purchase renewable energy, the NY HE LSRE is expected to help mitigate risk to campuses from volatile energy markets, enable the state, SUNY, and private institutions to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, and provide academic and research opportunities for students and faculty.


Technologies such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, biogas, biofuel, and fuel cells, are expected to be viable sources. The RFP is expected to be issued in Fall 2019, with operations to begin no later than December 2020.


The following colleges are joining OCC in the NY HE LSRE consortium:

  • University at Albany
  • Binghamton University
  • SUNY Cobleskill
  • SUNY Cortland
  • SUNY Empire State College
  • SUNY Geneseo
  • SUNY Delhi
  • SUNY Maritime
  • SUNY New Paltz
  • SUNY Oneonta
  • SUNY Fredonia
  • Purchase College
  • SUNY Oswego
  • Hudson Valley Community College
  • Bard College
  • Cornell University
  • Ithaca College
  • Skidmore College
  • Union College
Onondaga Community College