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Oklahoma campus hopes to be powered by wind by '13

Norman_The University of Oklahoma wants its main campus to be completely powered by wind by 2013, a plan the school's president calls one of the largest renewable energy commitments ever made by a public university in the U.S.

"It is our patriotic duty as Americans to help our country achieve energy independence and to be sound stewards of the environment," University President David Boren said Wednesday. "All of us as Americans should unite in this effort."

The university will purchase the wind-generated power for the Norman campus from Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., which plans to build a new commercial-scale wind farm near Woodward in northwestern Oklahoma. University regents approved the deal during a meeting earlier Wednesday in Tulsa.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission still must approve the planned wind farm and a new transmission line that is planned to run between Woodward and Oklahoma City.

Boren said the university also will increase its use of vehicles powered by compressed natural gas and will open a new refueling station for such vehicles on campus in November.

Currently, about 10 percent of OU's power is generated by wind.

Boren cited the University of Oregon and New York University, a private institution, as among the national leaders in using power generated by renewable sources on their campus. In Oklahoma, the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond made the switch to 100-percent wind power in April 2006.

"It's the right thing to do for the environment," University of Central Oklahoma spokesman Charlie Johnson said. "Our green campus initiative has been very successful over the last several years."

OG&E President and Chief Executive Officer Pete Delaney said the Oklahoma City-based company also will establish internships and scholarships for OU students who study renewable energy.

Wind energy is fast becoming a major source of electricity, said Mike Bergey, a former president of the American Wind Energy Association and the current president of the Norman Chamber of Commerce.

"The Oklahoma economy is poised to receive up to $40 billion in wind energy investments and thousands of green-collar jobs," Bergey said. "Those are jobs that will help us keep our best and brightest here at home."

Boren said using wind-generated power shouldn't cost the university significantly more than it's now paying, and could even be cheaper long-term. He said that because of the university's membership in the Chicago Climate Exchange, as OU reduces its carbon dioxide emissions by purchasing wind power, it will earn renewable energy credits, which have a marketable value on the exchange.

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On the Net:

University of Oklahoma: http://www.ou.edu

Murray Evans, AP Writer © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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