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A photo of the rooftop photovoltaic solar panels at MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center. In the background, the T.B. Simon Power Plant is also visible.

MSU's Energy Transition Plan

Climate change, energy supply and demand, the health effects of air pollution and environmental sustainability are among the most complex and urgent issues facing our world today. As one of the world’s top research universities, Michigan State University is committed to cultivating a campus that actively works to uncover cleaner, more renewable energy sources and integrate leading practices into all operations.


In 2009, MSU developed the Energy Transition Plan (ETP) to meet the growing needs of the campus, changing technologies and evolving regulations. The MSU Energy Transition Steering Committee—comprised of diverse staff, students and faculty—proposed a bold vision to transition campus to 100% renewable energy, catalyzed by President Lou Anna K. Simon’s Bolder by Design framework, which calls upon the campus community to create transformational change. To achieve this vision, a plan was enacted to address energy supply and demand, create new knowledge and strengthen partnerships, balancing capacity, health, reliability, environment and cost. The key interrelated goals of the plan were:

  1. 1. Improve the physical environment
    1. Avoid wasteful and carbon intensive practices
    2. Improve energy efficiency
    3. Replace high carbon energy sources with lower carbon sources
    4. Offset emissions that cannot be avoided, reduced or replaced
  2. Invest in sustainable energy research and development
    1. Position campus as a living-learning laboratory for research
    2. Support sustainable energy research programs
    3. Demonstrate sustainable energy projects on campus
    4. Streamline facilities, policies and systems to enhance cross-disciplinary collaboration
  3. Become an educational leader in sustainable energy
    1. Educate stakeholders
    2. Share energy transition process

Through these goals, numerous advances were made to reduce impact and accelerate energy awareness on campus. Core targets were also set for percent greenhouse gas emission reduction and percent increase in campus renewable energy portfolio.

Table image. Percentage Campus Renewable Energy Column: FY 2015: 15. FY 2020: 20. FY 2025: 25. FY 2030: 40. Percentage Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction column. FY 2015: 30. FY 2020: 45. FY 2025: 55. FY 2030: 65.


In April of 2015, MSU announced that it would take a monumental step in energy sustainability by ceasing the burning of coal at the T.B. Simon Power Plant.


On March 24, 2016, MSU officially stopped burning coal at the T.B. Simon Power Plant, a move expected to result in an annual CO2 emissions reduction of 575 million pounds. The transition away from coal remains a benchmark success amidst numerous additional energy saving practices and techniques that have also contributed to energy sustainability.


The ETP underwent a five year review, as mandated by the Energy Transition Steering Committee. To continue advancing operational efficiency, and to better capitalize on the academic and research systems on campus, it was determined that the plan should evolve to include more comprehensive sustainability goal-setting. The ETP now serves as a framework for continued energy and sustainability progress at MSU, spearheaded by MSU’s Executive Vice President of Administrative Services.

Contact Information

If you have questions or comments about MSU's Energy Transition Plan, please contact