Cornell to buy all of proposed Black Oak Wind Farm's energy

Making a stride toward reducing carbon emission, Cornell University has agreed to purchase all electricity generated by the proposed Black Oak Wind Farm in Enfield, New York, which is pending municipal approvals. This purchase represents 20 percent of the university’s total annual electricity use – enough energy to power approximately 5,000 homes.

The Cornell University Board of Trustees approved the power purchase agreement this fall. The Town of Enfield Board accepted the final environmental impact statement on Nov. 12. The Enfield board is preparing a findings statement to complete the mandated State Environmental Quality Review, which is expected to be finalized by early next year.

Situated on some of the windiest hills in the Southern Tier, the Black Oak Wind Farm is expected to generate 11.9 megawatts annually by using seven efficient, state-of-the-art General Electric 1.7 megawatt turbines. The Black Oak Wind Farm would be New York’s first community-owned wind farm.

“Wind is a very reliable source of renewable energy and contributes zero carbon into the atmosphere while generating electricity. As we use more wind, we reduce our dependence on carbon-produced electricity. This is a major step toward Cornell becoming a carbon neutral campus,” said KyuJung Whang, Cornell vice president for facilities services.

Cornell’s Climate Action Plan, developed by Cornell faculty, students and staff in 2009, seeks to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2035. Since 2008, the university has reduced gross carbon emissions by nearly 32 percent.

Another sustainability initiative, the Cornell Snyder Road Solar Farm – with 6,778 photovoltaic panels on an 11-acre plot that adjoins the Tompkins County Regional Airport – started producing electricity Sept. 19. It is expected to produce about 2.5 million kilowatt hours annually, enough to power 320 homes. The array will reduce the university’s greenhouse gas emissions each year by 650 metric tons.

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Melissa Osgood