UC Will Become Electrically Self-Sufficient

The University of California will start directly supplying electricity to its campuses and medical centers throughout the month of January. A statement was released on Jan. 13 by the UC Office of the President announcing that the UC system will no longer be using a third-party electric supplier.

The University of California’s Chief Financial Officer Nathan Brostrom said that the change is part of an initiative to become the first research university to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.

“The University of California is committed to being a leader in sustainability and this brings us another step closer to achieving carbon neutrality,” Brostrom said in the press release. “Making this switch will give UC more control over the type of energy it buys and provide our campuses and medical centers with more price transparency.”

The UC system hopes that entering into its own long-term contracts will help it control electricity costs. UCSD’s Associate Director of Electricity & Utilities John Dilliott said that this would happen primarily by reducing overhead and profit margins that third parties have charged.

Dilliott explained to the Guardian that though UCSD is already partially self-sustaining in terms of energy, the UC system will now supply an amount of energy that UCSD previously did not.

“UCSD does not currently generate 100 percent of the electricity needed to meet campus demand,” Dilliott said. “We have been purchasing the imported electricity from a non-San Diego Gas and Electric provider since 1998. Now, UCOP is that third-party provider.”

When asked what other energy options UCSD is exploring, Dilliott answered that, along with UCOP, the university is actively exploring using biogas sources to offset fossil fuels and natural gas.

Last year, the UC system became a registered Electric Service Provider to allow its Wholesale Power Program to serve as the primary energy supplier to UCSD, UC Irvine, UC San Francisco and its medical centers, as well as for UC Santa Cruz, UC Merced and a number of other areas throughout the UC campuses. A governing board with representatives from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Merced, UCSD, UCSF and UCSC will oversee the university system’s Wholesale Power Program.

Also, the University of California announced plans last September to sign two power purchase agreements with Frontier Renewables — the largest solar energy purchase by any U.S. higher education institution — to secure solar energy for the UC system for 25 years.