Letters from the West

BSU students vote for 100 percent clean energy goal

Workers install a solar project in Massachusetts.
Workers install a solar project in Massachusetts.

The Associated Students at Boise State University passed a resolution Thursday calling for the school to adopt a 100% clean energy goal campus-wide.

The resolution was approved by the assembly of the student group but it won't take effect until approved by its newly seated executive team, said its new President Rebecca Kopp. They likely won't vote until the Fall.

But the vote shows students are committed to sustainability. The resolution calls on Boise State University President Bob Kustra and administrative leaders to commit to establishing a comprehensive plan, in coordination with relevant stakeholders, by Spring of 2017, that addresses the capital planning, engineering, contracting, and infrastructure necessary to achieve carbon neutrality and 100% renewable electricity by 2035.

That might not be a heavy lift. In 2007, Kustra, joined more than 400 college and university leaders by signing the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment to work toward achieving climate neutrality.

Science unequivocally indicates the impacts of climate change will be much worse for future generations and our quality of life if we do not take significant action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Associated Students at Boise State University resolution

But the vote put students behind a goal that is reachable by 2035. Currently nearly 40% of the electricity Idaho Power generates and supplies to BSU comes from burning coal, but the utility has said it is on a "glide path" away from coal that could be reached by 2035.

BSU bought 47,774 Megawatt hours of electricity from Idaho Power in 2010, according to the resolution amounting to 19,992 metric tons of CO2 emissions. Idaho Power's CEO Darrel Anderson told stockholders a year ago he did not foresee the utility going to 100 percent clean power in the foreseeable future but there are ways that BSU can work with them to achieve its own goals.

Kopp said Sierra Club student members brought the resolution to the student group, which already has an interest in sustainability overall. Zack Waterman, the Sierra Club's Idaho Director praised the students for their leadership.

"In calling on the university to commit to and plan for 100% clean energy, the students are asking BSU to join other universities, 15 cities in the U.S., and more than 50 major corporations that have already made the commitment," Waterman said.

Rocky Barker: 208-377-6484, @RockyBarker

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