Bastiaan Phair, The PHOENIX
In 1999 the college began purchasing renewable energy certificates, and the college’s 2012 “Climate Action Plan” cited Renewable Energy Credits (R.E.C.s) as a necessary tool to offset those greenhouse gas emissions associated with the generation of electricity that could not be eliminated by reducing consumption. Numerous studies have found that R.E.C. markets do little to drive the reduction of carbon emissions. In response to these concerns, the college intends to implement a new strategy of electrifying systems and decarbonizing electrical sources.
As defined by the EPA, a R.E.C. is the “legal property rights to the ‘renewable-ness’ … of renewable electricity generation”. The owner of R.E.C.s can legally claim that they have offset the emissions caused by producing the electricity they use.
The college began purchasing R.E.C.s the first year they were available in a non-wholesale capacity. This yearly commitment increased until it was in direct proportion to the total amount of electricity the college consumed. This allowed the college to assert, in a 2013 greenhouse gas inventory titled “Progress Toward Climate Neutrality”, that “100% of the College’s greenhouse-gas emissions generated from its electricity use are offset by R.E.C.s”.