This article was written by the MPIRG Environmental Justice Task Force.
On Wednesday, Nov. 20, students at colleges and universities in Minneapolis and St Paul will rally to call upon their campus administrators to move aggressively to install more solar energy. Students representing five higher education institutions, including Augsburg College, Hamline University, Macalester College, St. Catherine University and the University of Minnesota at Twin Cities have engaged in a coordinated action to announce their support and encourage their school to demonstrate their leadership in a transition to a clean energy economy.
These students will join with others across the state to advocate for more solar energy at their institutions of higher education. Simultaneous actions to campus administrations will occur at the University of Minnesota – Duluth and the University of Minnesota – Morris.
This call to action is long overdue. Here at Macalester College, we have made strides in energy efficiency, but few investments have been made in the production of renewable energy. We applaud Macalester’s plan to install solar panels on The Institute For Global Citizenship Building and urge them not to waver in their commitment in the face of delaying tactics by Xcel Energy. MPIRG offers its support and resources, in any way possible, in order to see the project to completion.
We also encourage Macalester College to explore all other means for financing future solar installations. Recent changes to state law provide for a significant reduction in the costs and the payback time for new solar energy installations. This payback has shifted from a 20 – 30 year period to 7 – 13 years. To take advantage of this incentive, Macalester College needs to work with a limited liability solar company to do the installation. We also urge Macalester to ensure that all future building projects are built with “solar capability” in mind.
Throughout history, higher education institutions have prided themselves on their ability to implement socially and environmentally responsible policies and practices that contribute to the greater good of the students it serves and the surrounding community alike. In doing so, they set a precedent that the city, state and nation strive to follow.
We need Macalester College to continue setting the precedent by showing real leadership on clean energy. This is a win-win situation. The long-term benefits for investing in solar will now be seen at Macalester through reduced energy costs.
At the same time, Macalester will be making good on the promises made with the President’s Climate Commitment it signed, demonstrating to the student body that the institution is serious about reducing its carbon footprint, and will benefit future generations by mitigating the impact of climate change.
On behalf of the student body, future generations and our global community, we implore Macalester to act quickly and decisively to move us towards a clean energy future. We cannot afford to wait – we need to take concrete actions in our own communities to create a sustainable future. That change can and must begin here at Macalester College.