Utilities budget remains constant for 2010-2011 fiscal year

Last Wednesday, the College began preparations for the winter, switching on the central heating plant and other individual College building heating systems.

Although many departmental budgets decreased this year due to continued cost-cutting measures across campus, Facilities’ budget for utilities has remained essentially the same.

The budget dropped 0.4 percent this year, to $5,586,525, from the actual expenditure of $5,610,344 last year.

Depending on the weather forecast, Facilities selects a day at the end of September or beginning of October to turn on the heating system for all campus buildings, a process that typically takes two to three days.

According to Donald Clark, utilities program manager for Facilities, late September is a normal time for the heating system to be implemented.

The two greatest utilities expenses are electricity and fuel for the central heating plant. About 40 percent, or $2,275,305, of the budget will be spent on electricity, and 38 percent, or $2,066,564, will be spent on gas and residual oil fuels for the central heating plant.

Facilities spends about 6 percent of its utilities budget, or $335,459, on B-10 fuel oil, which is an energy-saving source used for heating and hot water in buildings outside of the central heating plant’s distribution network.

Another 6 percent of the budget, or $328,930, is spent on natural gas for heat and hot water in these same outlying buildings, and the remaining 10 percent of the budget, or $529,101, is spent on residential and all-campus water and sewage costs.

Despite the fact that the utilities budget depends on a number of factors, including rate of fuel usage, expansion of campus square footage and the market for the commodities the College uses to heat and power the campus, Clark expects the budget for next year to be similar to the current budget, as the Facilities budget for utilities is allocated according to a projection of expected consumption based on a ten-year average of costs and usage.

“Unless the markets for gas and oil increase significantly – although most of our commodity rate is locked in for next year through contracts – or unless we [have] a significant increase in consumption of energy, the budget should remain about the same,” Clark said.

According to Stephanie Boyd, director of the Zilkha Center, reducing monetary expenditures is second to reducing energy use and harmful emissions.

“[Saving] utilities costs is great and helps us afford other things that we want, but in the long term, we should be more concerned about how we are spending our utilities dollars,” Boyd said.