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June 17, 2009
The Northwest Missouri State University Alternative Energy Innovation was recently honored by receiving the 2009 Innovator Award from the Southern Growth Policies Board.
The Southern Growth Policies Board, a think tank based in North Carolina, is supported by memberships representing 13 southern states - Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The board works to advance economic development by creating a forum for partnership and dialogue between the participating states.
Each year SGPB chooses one program from each of its member states to receive their prestigious Innovator Award. The winners must provide a track record of success and vision for the future, encourage economic opportunities relating to bio-products, alternative energy, and/or energy efficiency, and encourage opportunities broader than merely the commercialization of an individual product.
Northwest's Alternative Energy Innovation was selected from the Missouri applicants by an outside evaluation panel. Ray Courter, vice president of finance and support services, and James Teaney, steam plant supervisor, accepted the award on behalf of Northwest at the organization's annual conference in Biloxi, Miss. on June 8. Courter says the award means much to the University and the alternative energy program.
"We're very pleased to have our project selected as an example of alternative fuel uses today," Courter said. "It's truly an honor."
Northwest's alternative fuels program has been in existence since 1982, when the University established a biomass energy system that utilized wood chips as fuel. In 1990, the process of pelletizing discarded newspaper, corrugated and cardboard boxes, magazines and other clean paper products to use as fuel added another dimension to the energy program. The most recent upgrade came in 2001, when animal waste from the University farm was used to create a virtually odor-free pellet that can also be burned as fuel.
Courter says one of the great things about the program at Northwest is that it benefits the entire region, not just the University.
"Because we can buy these wood chip supplies and receive this paper material, local business that have excess wood and paper waste don't to pay to stick it into a landfill," Courter said. "By stopping that waste from going into a landfill, we're also helping the environment. So to a small degree this program is able to help area landfills save space, area businesses save money, and area saw mills and wood product companies dispose of excess."
Since its implementation, Northwest's alternative energy program has yielded $13 million in savings when compared to purchasing natural gas and oil. Currently 80 to 85 percent of the University's thermal energy needs are met using alternative fuels.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468