Out with the coal, in with the new
Unfortunately, the University of Georgia is one of the 22 universities that is using its own coal plant.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 19:28
Photo: Kelly Lambert
The Sierra Club, a grassroots environmental organization, is attempting to get universities nationwide to stop using their own coal-fired power plants, as well as to discontinue the use of coal completely. They have begun their efforts by providing information to 22 campuses and hope to target 60 more in the near future. Unfortunately, the University of Georgia is one of the 22 universities that is using its own plant. These universities are not only putting their pockets first, but also contributing to global warming.
The University of Georgia currently has four boilers that they use to produce steam, one of those four being coal. According to University of Georgia records, "In 2008, the steam boiler emitted about 266 tons of sulfur dioxide, which helps form acid rain, and 74 tons of nitrogen oxides, a component of ozone pollution." This is a contributing factor to quite a hefty amount of pollution considering this boiler produces less than half of the power supplied to the university.
Although it has been acknowledged that the boiler needs to be replaced, the cost of doing so in the near future will be too much for the university to take on. According to Online Athens, "planners don't want another natural gas boiler, but one that uses another fuel source," therefore enabling the opportunity for more options for generating power, and eventually saving money. However, these ideas do come at a price. The university estimates that a new plant could cost up to $50 million.
The university has taken steps toward helping the environment by doing a variety of things. In 2006, UGA decided that it was going to put a $2.5 million dollar filtering system on the coal-boiler in order to help cut down on the emission of air pollution. Subsequently, with the now lower prices of natural gas, UGA shut down its coal-fired steam boiler from May 1 - September 30, 2009, in order to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The university has also introduced a new website detailing its efforts to go green and has even established an efficient gameday recycling plan, which went into effect this season.
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