San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

November 19th, 2009
Student power, literally, at Texas State


While it’s true that a college education can empower students, at Texas State the students will soon be able to quite literally “empower” the university.

The retrofitting of 30 elliptical machines at the Student Recreation Center (SRC) will give the equipment the capability of converting exercise into renewable energy, connecting it to the power grid.

On Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. in the SRC, the machines will be unveiled, making Texas State the first university in the state to generate electricity in this way. In fact, the SRC project will be the largest of its kind in the world.

The technology converts the effort of a typical 30 minute workout into about 50 watt hours of electricity, which is sufficient to power a laptop computer for one hour or a desktop computer for 30 minutes.

“The main rationale is to help promote sustainability efforts and raise awareness with the student body,” said sports clubs director Stephanie Thompson. “We believe that once students understand how much energy it takes to power appliances or electronics, they will adapt their lifestyles to create a more energy efficient and sustainable community.”

The $19,750 bill for the project will be paid by Texas State’s Environmental Service Committee and the Department of Campus Recreation with support from Associated Student Government (ASG).

The retrofitting technology will be installed by ReRev, a company based in Clearwater, FL, which has worked on similar projects nationwide.

More information about this project can be found by visiting For further information contact the Student Recreation Center at (512) 245-5792.

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0 thoughts on “Student power, literally, at Texas State

  1. While it’s a somewhat interesting idea, there’s no way they’ll see a ROI before those machines break down, at that price tag. Seriously, 50 watt hours?

    I guess it was an easy opportunity for marketing to slap a cute name on a pointless project for a press release, rather than buying actual advertising time.

  2. I believe this is actually a very worthy initiative, and I applaud the leaders (student, faculty, administration) at Texas State for exploring creative and various ways to inform and inspire our future leaders (currently students at Texas State) to live life thoughtfully and be interested and involved in activities that can ultimately come together for our common good.

  3. I think it is kind of cool. They may never see any positive ROI, but if enough schools do it, the manufacturers may be able to get the price low enough to allow others, like health clubs, to do the same. At $650 per unit, it’s not that far off, depending on the life expectancy of the equipment.

  4. Scratch that. It is way off (bad math), unless the equipment gets quite a bit more efficient, as well as less expensive. Still, it is pretty cool and it could be used as a marketing tool to get more people into one gym over another, which might make the ROI work at some point.

  5. The goal is not to produce a true ROI, but instead to make students more aware of the amount of energy it takes for certain tasks. By increasing awareness of the energy that goes into, say, keeping a laptop plugged in overnight, students will hopefully adopt behaviors that lead to conservation practices.

  6. This project would literally take 100 years to pay off.

    4 hours per machine per day is a conservative estimate I just got from my roommate. 100wx4 hours = 400w/hrs. 400×30 machines = 12kw/hrs. 12×7 days = 84 kw/hrs per week. 36 weeks means upwards of three thousand kilowatt hours. 3,000 at $.09 per kw/hr they’ll save $237 annually.

    So maybe this particular project takes 100 years to get ROI. Not if the students begin looking around, adding up, then subtracting the watts.

    Local energy is the key to mankind’s unbridled future.
    (and I my feeling is that it aint windmills or solar panels)

    BTW global warming is a fraud. Ban Ki-moon and the UN want 100 Billion annually? Invest it in ZPE!!! DARPA already is.

  7. Oh and for a measly $10 million (just 100 times what an incumbent mayor’s seat costs) they’ll either produce the greatest breakthrough mankind has ever known; or they’ll keep it reigned-in. Since DARPA gave us the internet I have great hope for 2011.

  8. If you want to make people aware of the power that their devices use, there are better ways to do it. Educating people on everything between how power is generated, transported and converted for home use is the proper approach. If we focused on teaching that and the related electrical concepts in K-12, it’d be far more effective.

    Honestly, the people that use those ellipticals aren’t going to care one bit that they “generate” power. Besides that, the example is contextually meaningless since we don’t generate power with exercise equipment in power plants.

    Even if they were to show the user what they generated on a meter, a watt hour is a meaningless concept to the vast majority of people.

    If they wanted to add some context to it, they should have mounted lights on the machine that respond to the amount of power the user is generating.

    It just floors me that the school was willing to piss away twenty grand on this, when a large sign that says “GREEN POWER” would have been vastly more effective in “raising awareness”.

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