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Projects Updates for Energy Generation, Purchasing, & Distribution (eGen) SWATeam


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  1. Materials from iWG

    Dear Energy Generation, Purchasing, and Distribution SWATeam,

    The iCAP Working Group met today, and would like to thank you for your report!

    In the hopes that it will provide some assistance as you formulate your recommendations for the revised iCAP, to be presented at the iCAP Forum on October 22nd, we wanted to provide you with some additional files:

    1) A "template" for the iCAP sections that we ask that you use. This was written using Transportation as an example, but it should be easily adaptable.

    2) A "resources" document that summarizes the 2010 iCAP strategies, excerpts from a document that was put together back in FY13 summarizing progress at that time, a set of links to relevant pages on the iCAP Portal, and a list of the questions in the STARS report that are relevant to your team.  The STARS report is how our campus gets "graded" on our sustainability performance, so these questions may inspire ideas for things the campus should be doing.

    3) A table of emissions in your area as determined by the Clean Air Cool Planet calculator, which represents our officially reported emissions.   You can fill this in with your proposed goals, and include it in the template.

    4) A summary of all of our emissions in different categories, for context.

    5) The Clean Air Cool Planet calculator itself, updated for FY2014, in case you wish to dive into how the calculations are performed.

    We hope this information will be helpful to your team.  If there is anything we can do to help you with your important work in the coming month, please just ask!




    Professor Benjamin J. McCall

    Associate Director for Campus Sustainability

    Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


  2. iWG agenda packet

  3. EGen001 Wind PPA recommendation - Submittal

    The eGen SWATeam submitted a recommendation to the iWG stating, "We strongly endorse pursuing Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with one or more Wind Farms as soon as possible. Given current market conditions, we believe that a PPA with one or more Wind Farms presents a great opportunity to purchase renewable energy in support of the campus iCAP targets."

    See attached the SWATeam recommendation EGen001 Wind PPA complete with comments from all the eGen SWATeam members.

  4. methane question

    Dear Energy Generation SWATeam,

    As the campus prepares to issue a request for pricing (RFP) for renewable energy, the question has arisen whether electricity derived from natural gas from abandoned coal mines would "count" towards our climate action goals.  My understanding is that in some states (including California) this type of energy is defined by statute as renewable, but this is not the case in Illinois -- so we would have to make our own judgment.  I also note that at least one such project has been certified by the Voluntary Carbon Standard (,

    which is the same standard under which our campus carbon reductions are being certified.

    The basic idea behind this energy source is that abandoned coal mines naturally leak methane into the atmosphere, and as I'm sure you know methane has a considerably larger effect on climate than does CO2.

    These projects aim to capture that methane and combust it to form CO2, thus reducing the overall climate impact while also generating electricity.

    I'd like to ask your SWATeam to examine this issue, and provide a recommendation to the iCAP Working Group as to whether abandoned coal mine methane capture "counts" as renewable energy in the context of our climate goals (as represented in the iCAP and envisioned revisions to the iCAP).  You may also wish to examine whether landfill gas capture "counts."

    It would be most helpful if I could receive your recommendation before the end of August.



  5. methane question revision


         We will take a look at this.   But there are two points I'd like to make right away:

    1. It does not appear that California considers this renewable energy (nor does Illinois, as you say):

    2.  Since this source of methane is exhaustible, I don't see any rationale to consider it renewable.   It may be a worthwhile thing to do, but that is a separate issue.   Renewable is a high standard.



    Hi Scott,

    You raise a fantastic point that mine gas is not renewable in the sense that of renewing itself indefinitely (in contrast to wind and solar). 

    However, like landfill gas, there appears to be a clear climate benefit to utilizing it rather than allowing it to leak to the atmosphere.

    I suppose I should rephrase my question: should the campus consider mine gas (or landfill gas) as helping to meet our climate goals, and if so how should it fit in?  Should we consider it on the same playing field as true renewables?  Or should we separately pursue it as a way of reducing our CO2 emissions in the energy sector, but not count it towards our renewables goals?

    Thanks very much,


  6. F&S receives Wind PPA recommendation


    We contacted UA. They're supposed to give us a RFP schedule next week. That should give us a better idea of the timeline.

    -Al Stratman

    From: Evan DeLucia []
    Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2014 5:39 PM
    To: McCall, Benjamin
    Cc: Stratman, Allan
    Subject: SWAT report on energy generation


    In the absence of a fully formulated SWAT process - iWG and the Sustainability Council have yet to be formed - I forwarded the May 2014 position paper from the 'energy generation' team directly to Al Stratman for consideration.

    Under the SWAT process, the teams should be... "developing and recommending specific actions or initiatives the campus should under take to meet iCAP targets..." The energy generation SWAT did a nice job of recommending a specific action that would help meet our targets.

    To paraphrase, Al responded...

    • the concept of a PPA is meritorious and has potential
    • F&S is evaluating this plan
    • some of the issues that need to be considered include pricing options, length of agreement constraints, REC pricing alternatives
    • F&S is working to obtain hard data on pricing and other details before moving forward

    I've taken the liberty of copying Al to be sure I didn't misrepresent his response to me.

    Al, do you have any idea of what might be a reasonable time frame would be for completing an analysis of the feasibility, costs, and benefits of purchasing wind power for campus?



  7. Recommendation: Wind PPA

    Here is the first recommendation from the Energy Generation SWATeam.

    "We strongly endorse obtaining Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with one or more Wind Farms as soon as possible.  It is unlikely that a better opportunity to purchase renewable energy will present itself in the foreseeable future."

    Attached Files: 
  8. Energy Retreat presentations

    A look at the presentations from the May 8 retreat on energy hosted by the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (the underlined PowerPoint presentations can be viewed):

  9. Notes from intro meeting

    Energy generation SWATeam 

    Intros Ben McCall, Tim Mies, Nate Welch, Stephanie Lage, Drew O'Brien, Ben Beeber, Morgan Johnston, Mike Larson, and Scott Willenbrock (chair).   Scott did house and wants to work on changing campus.    BJM thanks. All busy people and really great that you are willing to participate in this. ISEE is newest incarnation of sustainability on campus. Have ear of administration. Set up personally by wise. Something she cares about. When I took the job in dec, obvious I can't do it alone. Mission is icap. Commitment we made in 2010 to move to climate neutrality by 2050. Very big challenge. Especially in energy generation. Also one on conservation and bldg standards.    Long term vision is to recommend policy changes to campus for how to move forward with sustainability across the campus. Don't have a mechanism in place for taking these recs and funding streams. At vc level soon to be at chancellor level. So starting with evaluate where we are now. This team can evaluate. And identify actions campus could take to meet 2015 goals. We should use the word could for now.    Once mechanism is set up, then can up charge the teams scope. Team can spawn studies Etc to make progress. Core group of six and ultimately surrounded by consultation group to feed in ideas info feedback. Also public input open sessions for whole campus.    Ben remember about ten hours per week. Org mtgs. Background research. Gather and synthesize info. Also faculty chair of group. BJM here to kick you off and let you go. Mostly won't need him cause he doesn't know enough to be an active participant to the group.    Specific deliverable. Short report or white paper before April 21. Discussions that week about campus sustainability. Prefer to have his talk vetted by a group of people. Also could have public discussions that week.    Larger role of SWATeams. Vision of iSEE will be essentially permanent teams. Annually reevaluate progress. Every five years review targets. Ongoing effort for campus. Really here at the beginning.    Scott. Trying to get mechanical engineering prof to join us.    Ben please set doodle for next week and then three weeks for now. That to be regular meeting time. Not going to meet spring break. Four working weeks to produce this report.   Verbatim from icap targets and strategies. Comments non judgemental. Just statements of fact. Here's where we are at. Just factual. Not criticism or applause just fact.    Solar farm. Sentence about timeline should be removed. Solar farm speculating about what's going to happen in the future is not really in our purview. Mike says, The project is in progress with a completion date not yet certain. Nate says this is significant land use. My group is interested in app. Sequestration infrastructure. Going to need a big pond. Rice production and similarities between that and algae. Co2 bubbling sequestration in ground. Have bubble size from a four year old study. From a large perspective there's a 20 acre demand in motion. So that's a feasible technology for rooftop and parking decks etc. Scott you are talking about stage two discussion. That's a later discussion. Are we accurately describing the campus.    By fy15 means what? Start or end. Generation by fy15. During fy15, 5% electricity from renewables. Compared to fy08 during that. If no further action what is destined to happen. Fy 14 is almost done.    So assessing where we are now and using that to see what could be done in fy15.   Drew. Talking about renewable energy certificates. Do recs count for the five percent? BJM. My understanding if you were to buy green power from wind farm. Buy recs separately from electrons. Would count per BJM.    UI is pre buying power through hedge program. Reverse auction in April for fy 15-17. Mike 15-25% pricing info and deciding ahead of time. Buying electrons and recs together. Spirit of docs is offsets should be last resort. Do what we can to reduce emissions themselves. And use offsets to meet targets. Recs are dirt cheap right now. drew sticky issue. What percentage would that bring us to? About 2%.    Tim solar projects decathlon houses? Feed into campus. I hotel. Solar charging batteries etc. All over the place. Ask Morgan for arrays on campus. Ask why it doesn't include solar decathlon houses? Two now another in progress. Tim will find out status of one at energy farm. Connected to Ameren. Paid by campus. Mike I hotel. Tim AG.    BJM 4. Cease all investment to increase the lifetime. Abott is doing maintenance and repairs to be able to use the assets. Scott AEI report in progress. BJM showed Scott a prelim draft. ICAP asked for the report to be done by 2012.  Mike can provide the exact dates. Has been going on over a year. He will give the PO info.    KCPA array. Size? Study impact. Want this to have an upside to it. Maybe slower than icap wanted. Should acknowledge the efforts being made. Nate to understand what's in motion currently. Mike can outline what we have tried. Study of biomass available in area. Test burn of wood hips. Tried to figure out how to burn Miscanthus. Have design for a biomass feed. Have coal stoker boilers. Set up for rocks. Try to put in leafy materials. Have a conceptual design. Have gone down a lot of paths none of which have been successful.   

  10. first meeting

    Scott Willenbrock provided the attached file as a starting discussion point for the team.


    Dear committee members,

         Our first task is to evaluate progress towards reaching the iCAP fiscal year 2015 goals.  iCAP specifies various goals to be reached “by fiscal year 2015”, which means by July 1, 2014. 

          I have tried to summarize the progress, as I understand it, in two pages, attached to this email.   Some numbers I do not know, so I wrote XX.   We will discuss this summary at our first meeting on Thursday morning, among other things.




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