PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University energy conservation measures are succeeding at reducing energy costs. University officials credit the cooperation of staff and faculty who have helped cut energy use on campus.
Energy costs in the Pacific Northwest have skyrocketed in recent weeks. Potential shortages of natural gas and electricity have prompted conservation measures throughout the region. WSU’s energy bill is expected to exceed budget projections by up to $3 million dollars depending on weather, fluctuating fuel prices, and the level of active involvement by the campus community in energy conservation measures.
This week, all state agencies received instructions from the governor to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent. Vice President for Business Affairs Greg Royer says WSU has a 20-year history of energy conservation and the university is well prepared to work toward the state’s goals.
Royer says the campus community has been making conservation measures succeed. “We have always been proud of the way our employees have responded in a crisis situation to help the university, and we have already experienced substantial cooperation from athletics, recreation, intramurals, the libraries, the department of chemistry and others over the holiday break. Everyone has gone the extra mile and inconvenienced themselves in order for us to shut down or reduce operating hours of our facilities.”
WSU’s Facilities Operations has cut costs by shifting fuels for heat and energy production and by reducing electrical and heating loads around campus. Some measures include lowering temperatures in campus buildings, turning off water heaters in restrooms and reducing hours of heating and ventilation systems in various facilities.
Other measures include reduced open hours for facilities during holiday periods.
University employees have also been asked to assist by cutting energy loads in their individual workspaces. These measures include reduced overhead lighting, careful use of fume hoods in laboratories, turning off computers overnight, and generally cutting down the use of unnecessary appliances.
Royer says he is optimistic that continued efforts by the campus community will help avoid budget problems. “It is in everyone’s best interest to help conserve energy because we all end up paying for it in the end. There is a finite amount of money in the budget, and this item is a huge variable that can potentially eat into other university programs,” says Royer.
WSU earned $73,000 in conservation credits from Avista Utilities for voluntary curtailment in December, and when the savings in fuel costs are added in it is a total savings of $86,000. The university has also received a one-time $815,000 rebate on electricity from a settlement in the Centralia power plant case.
WSU has requested $905,000 from the governor’s supplemental budget, and it is hoped that the balance of the shortfall can be made up through continued conservation measures and burning alternative fuels.