Higher energy prices raise utilites budget by 10 percent

Rising costs of energy commodities has led to approximately a 10 percent hike in the College’s combined utilities expenditures as compared with last year’s. The budget for utilities is projected at $6,543,000 while last year’s spending was $5,937,788. The greatest factor affecting the rising utilities budget is the global increase in natural gas and heating oil prices.

The total budget covers the expenses of heating oil, natural gas and electricity. The College’s Central Heating Plant burns a mixture of natural gas and heating oil. The cost of this mix has risen from $11.33 per dekatherm last fiscal year to a predicted $15.33 per dekatherm for the current fiscal year.

“The College is constantly looking for the best price of energy available in the market,” said Jose Fierro, director of Facilities Operations. “In fact, looking at the history over five years, the cost of electricity and the cost of fossil fuel in dollars per dekatherm is one of the lowest compared to our peer colleges.”

The numerous energy conservation projects that Facilities has taken on have aided in managing expenses, as well. “Electricity is a major component of our utilities and we are doing well managing its use,” Fierro said.

Fierro cites resources – the Zilkha Center for Environmental Studies, Facilities and Dining Services – and dedicated environmental activists among the students, faculty and staff as the key contributors to the management of energy efficiency initiatives.

The successful execution of such projects translates directly to lower expenses. “These ongoing efforts have allowed us to mitigate some of the additional impact of rising energy prices,” Fierro said.

“The number [for the budget] would actually be higher, except that we have reduced our overall energy usage through conservation measures,” said Diana Prideaux-Brune, assistant vice president for Facilities.