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Cornell's Renewable Energy Initiatives: From 115-Year-Old Hydroelectric Plant to Rooftop Solar Farms

By District Energy posted 03-13-2019 14:03


Jeffery Li, The Cornell Daily Sun


Built in 1904 in the Fall Creek gorge, Cornell’s first hydroelectric plant served to provide renewable energy to Ithaca’s campus. More than 120 years later, the plant generates only two percent of Cornell’s total electricity, according to Sarah Zemanick, director of campus sustainability office.

While the Fall Creek plant is no longer a major player in Cornell’s sustainability plan, the University has taken other measures to take advantage of renewable energies.

In 2007, Cornell became one of the first universities to sign the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, whose goal is to reduce emissions of greenhouse emissions. Cornell itself has planned to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2035.

In 2010, Cornell took a step to stop burning coal for electricity generation as part of the plan. Starting in 2014, two regional solar farms outside the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport and several rooftop solar farms on Cornell buildings had been put into generating electricity for campus buildings.

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