UD Provost Domenico Grasso (left) with Patrick E. McCullar, president and CEO of the Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation, which will buy renewable energy credits generated by the University's wind turbine.

Renewable energy agreement

DEMEC to buy renewable energy credits generated by UD's wind turbine

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11:12 a.m., Oct. 7, 2013--Renewable energy credits generated by the University of Delaware’s wind turbine in Lewes will be purchased by the Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation (DEMEC) through a new three-year agreement.

The proceeds will support a wind energy graduate student research fellowship in the University’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE).

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“This partnership advances green energy and environmental education in Delaware, and that’s a key priority for UD and for the state,” said UD President Patrick Harker. “We’re proud to work with DEMEC in this innovative way.”

“We support wind energy generation in Delaware,” added Patrick E. McCullar, president and CEO of DEMEC. “We can think of no better way to express that support than to buy wind energy renewable energy credits created right here in Delaware to fund this fellowship and the valuable wind research produced by UD.”

Under state law, utility companies must use some renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power — or purchase renewable energy credits (RECs) from entities that generate such electricity. 

UD in collaboration with Gamesa Technology Corporation installed a 2-megawatt wind turbine in 2010 adjacent to the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes. The turbine powers laboratories and facilities on the campus, while also serving as a wind energy research and education tool. Any surplus electricity is sold to the Lewes Board of Public Works.

DEMEC, a wholesale electric utility that represents all major towns in Delaware except Wilmington, including the Lewes Board of Public Works, agreed to buy all of the RECs associated with the wind turbine beginning in June 2013. Since the turbine was constructed before 2013 during an incentive period, the utility receives an additional half-credit per REC.

“The University’s turbine has yielded many benefits in its first three years of operation,” said CEOE Dean Nancy Targett. “It has generated clean energy for our campus and community, helped train students in turbine maintenance, tested new equipment from Gamesa and assisted research studies on corrosion and other topics. This new agreement with DEMEC represents one more way that the turbine is adding value.” 

As a green energy producer, the turbine earns one REC for each megawatt hour (MWh) generated. The University can sell these credits to utilities on a regulated market. 

The revenue will fund the newly established UD-DEMEC Graduate Fellowship for Wind Energy Research. CEOE will seek out prospective graduate students in the field of wind energy to apply for admission to its graduate programs who also will be eligible to apply for the research fellowship, which will cover the student’s living expenses plus benefits. The student will undertake wind energy research under the direction of his or her adviser. Study areas related to wind energy include various topics, from offshore wind and marine policy to meteorology to geophysical and geotechnical considerations in the marine environment.

Based on past performance, the University estimates that the turbine will generate between 4,000 to 5,200 MWh annually. Regardless of production in a given year, DEMEC agreed to provide a minimum of $35,000 to fund the fellowship. Revenue exceeding the amount needed to fund the fellowship will go towards wind turbine administrative costs and student activities relating to wind energy.

The fellowship will help recruit outstanding graduate students to CEOE’s program, said Jeremy Firestone, professor of marine policy in CEOE’s School of Marine Science and Policy and director of the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration. Firestone has been heavily involved in the wind turbine project since its conception.

“The wind turbine was conceived and built to serve three purposes: research, education and clean energy generation and is a model of public-private partnerships,” Firestone said. “The fellowship is special because it brings together all three purposes and reaches out to still another partner.” 

About CEOE

UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE) strives to reach a deeper understanding of the planet and improve stewardship of environmental resources. CEOE faculty and students examine complex information from multiple disciplines with the knowledge that science and society are firmly linked and solutions to environmental challenges can be synonymous with positive economic impact. 

The college brings the latest advances in technology to bear on both teaching and conducting ocean, earth and atmospheric research.

CEOE is the administrative base of the Delaware Geological Survey, the Delaware Geographic Alliance and the Delaware Sea Grant College Program and is home to the secretariat of the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research.

About DEMEC Inc. 

The Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation Inc. is a public power joint action agency and wholesale electric utility established in 1979 to provide power supply and related services to the nine municipally-owned distribution utilities in the state of Delaware through owned generation assets and power purchased from other generators in the PJM region.

DEMEC manages a diversified power supply portfolio including natural gas fired generation, wind and solar assets. DEMEC has a long-term goal of developing innovative and economic utility-scale, renewable energy generation projects.

Article by Teresa Messmore

Photo by Evan Krape

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