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Des Moines Register: University of Iowa announces it will be coal-free by 2025

The president of the University of Iowa announced Monday that the Iowa City-based campus will be coal-free by 2025.

Over the next eight years, UI President Bruce Harreld said, the university will continue to pursue and develop its innovative renewable energy program to ensure a consistent supply of alternative sources of energy. Harreld estimates that, by 2025, coal no longer will be part of that energy portfolio.

"It’s the right choice for our students and our campus, and it’s the surest path to an energy-secure future," Harreld said in a UI press release.

The coal-free goal builds on the the sustainability targets set by UI officials in 2012. At that time, UI officials pledged to work toward having 40 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2020. The idea, according to UI officials, was to help transition from the university's dependency on fossil fuels — including coal — and to increase campus use of biomass and other renewable energy sources.

Over the past nine years, UI campus has reduced its use of coal by 60 percent, according to the release. In late 2016, UI achieved a single-day high of 52 percent energy generated from renewable fuels and averaged 50 percent that week.

“We expect the renewable percentage to rise sharply over the next couple of years as the biomass program continues to ramp up," Glen Mowery, director of utilities and energy management at UI, said in the release.

The university's current energy portfolio includes oat hulls, miscanthus energy grass, wood chips and green energy pellets.

UI partnered with Iowa State University in 2013 to develop a miscanthus grass with local farmers living within 50 miles of Iowa City. The university has already planted 550 acres of the energy grass and will plant an additional 250 to 350 acres during the spring of 2017. The goal is to establish up to 2,500 acres locally by 2020, according to the release.

"Transitioning off coal to locally sourced biomass is cost-competitive and provides maximum economic value to the state by providing jobs to the local economy and taking advantage of Iowa’s outstanding agricultural producers," Rod Lehnertz, senior vice president for finance and operations, said in the release. "In addition, the UI’s commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship are important factors when recruiting and inspiring students, faculty, and those who support the University of Iowa.”

By: Jeff Charis-Carlson 

See the complete Des Moines Register story here.

See more stories from:

Cedar Rapids Gazette, University of Iowa to ditch coal by 2025, Energy initiative 'well on track,‘” 02/21/17, Erin Hazen and Glen Mowery quoted.

Daily Iowan, UI ready to shun coal, 02/20/17,  Glen Mowery, Erin Hazen and Sara Maples quoted.

Press Citizen (AP), University of Iowa announces it will be coal-free by 2025, 2/20/17, Glen Mowery quoted. Ferman Milster makes appearance in the video.

KCRG, UI says they will stop using coal for energy by 2025, 02/20/17,  Erin Hazen interviewed.

 KGAN/Fox 2,  Farewell to fossil fuels: UI announces campus will be coal-free by 2025 , Erin Hazen interviewed.

 KWWL, University of Iowa will be coal free 

 RadioIowa, U-I sets goal to end coal use in power plant by 2025, Ben Fish interviewed. 


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