New Texas wind farm will help Brown offset campus electricity use

Wind turbines in Texas, now up and running, are part of a plan that will enable the University to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, offsetting 100% of campus electricity use with renewable energy sources.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A renewable energy facility that will play a significant role in moving  Brown University toward its goal of net-zero carbon emissions is now up and running.

On Thursday, June 11, the Clearway Energy Group announced that it has completed construction and started commercial operations of Mesquite Star, a 419-megawatt wind farm in Fisher County, Texas. Brown will purchase renewable energy credits from the facility as part of the University’s effort to offset all of its on-campus electricity use with renewable sources. 

"This partnership is a key part of our goal of getting to net-zero carbon emissions by 2040," said Stephen Porder, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and Brown's assistant provost for sustainability. “Power we purchase from Mesquite Star will offset about 30% of our campus electricity and will cut our net campus emissions by 15%. We're very pleased that our part in this project will contribute to a cleaner energy future."

Mesquite Star is one of two renewable energy projects that will eventually offset 100% of Brown’s electricity use. The other is a 50-megawatt (DC) solar facility in a former gravel pit in North Kingstown, R.I. Construction on that project is underway and expected to be completed in a few years. 

Brown’s renewable energy agreements for the wind and solar projects, along with an on-campus effort that will vastly improve the efficiency of Brown’s central heating plant, will cut campus greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 27,000 metric tons per year by the mid-2020s. That reduction is the equivalent of taking 5,800 cars off the road and will represent a 67% cut in total campus emissions relative to the baseline year of 2007.

The reductions are part of a four-phase plan that will reduce Brown’s emissions to net zero by 2040, a goal the University committed to in 2019. The move to net zero emissions is one among a number of actions underway at Brown to take on the threat posed by global climate change.

Located in one of the windiest corridors of West Texas, Mesquite Star was made possible in part by the aggregation of long-term power agreements with Brown and other corporate and institutional customers, including Ecolab, Lowes and Intuit.

“We’re proud of the team that came together to bring this project to life,” said Craig Cornelius, CEO of Clearway Energy Group. “Mesquite Star will provide clean, affordable wind power in the Lone Star State for decades to come while supporting our customers in meeting their sustainability and clean energy goals.”