The Student Government (SG) Senate unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday calling on USF President Steven Currall to commit the university to have all electricity come from renewable sources universitywide by 2030 and operate on 100% renewable energy by 2040.
The resolution was authored by members of USF’s Florida Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) chapter, including the 100% Renewable Energy Campaign Coordinator Daisy Perez, USF Florida PIRG Vice President Jona Skendaj and USF Florida PIRG President Alyssa Guarino.
It was sponsored by Sen. Jillian Wilson, Sen. Eran Fruehauf, Sen. Madysen Humphries, Relations Chair Committee member Sen. Gary Lopez-Perea, Sen. Julia Cunningham and Marketing Chair Veronica Jimenez.
In a 10-minute presentation to the Senate, Perez emphasized the important role USF plays in energy consumption as a public institution and explored the abilities of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power to sustain energy needs nationwide and at USF.
“Available wind resources could power the nation 10 times over and existing solar potential could provide more than 100 times current energy needs,” said Perez.
Perez also cited the university’s commitments to becoming a more sustainable institution when it comes to energy use, including the development of the Climate Action Plan in 2010 by the Patel College of Global Sustainability, which committed to a 20% reduction in emissions by 2025, and the university’s recognition as a higher education institution committed to energy reduction by the Sustainable Campus Index in 2019.
Several senators questioned the resolution once the presentation finished, including asking if it would apply to all three campuses, the sources of its featured statistics, the costs it would have on the university and how the ideas in the resolution would come to fruition in terms of transitioning to a 100% renewable energy campus.
“Are there any ideas on what small steps could be taken on how we get the university to become 100%, to use 100% renewable energy,” said Sen. Yelizza’s Mercedes.
Perez clarified that the aim of the resolution was to garner support and a public commitment from university administration to making itself a more sustainable institution.
“Our goal, like I said, is just to show support. I mean of course we have a few ideas, for example, changing light bulbs or making sure our golf carts are running on 100% renewable energy, or the solar power is like that we use at the [Marshall Student Center],” said Perez.
“Mostly what we’re trying to do though, is just create the support.”
While the 100% Renewable Energy Resolution’s approval is not an action plan that will move forward, it highlights the Senate’s stance on the issue and sets the basis for possible further action.
Now that it has passed, the resolution will be sent to Currall, the Florida Board of Governors, the USF Board of Trustees, SG’s executive branch and the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability.