With energy prices continually increasing, what is the UI doing to
keep costs under control?
To combat a rising energy bill, more emphasis is being placed on programs and practices that reduce energy consumption and control the cost of the fuel or energy we buy.
The campus' Energy 2000 programs have focused on three main areas to significantly reduce energy consumption. (Each has previously been featured in this column.) The installation of motor-speed controls on fans and pumps, the repair and replacement of steam traps throughout campus, and the installation of additional temperature controls in campus facilities resulted in a net savings of approximately $1.6 million for fiscal year 1996 alone. Additional savings over the next few years are expected as these programs expand into more buildings.
In addition to the Energy 2000 projects, Operation and Maintenance Division staff members continually study existing energy-delivery systems to ensure they are operating at optimal capacities. In addition, staff members consider long-term ramifications as they examine the configuration and nature of campus utility systems. Currently, the chilled water and electrical distribution systems on campus are being examined to determine if they can be reconfigured in a more efficient and cost-effective way. Computer models of the steam- and water-distribution systems also have been set up to determine how to operate them more efficiently.
Whenever possible, energy-efficient lamps and ballasts are used in indoor and outdoor lighting. This has resulted in increased lighting levels as well as significant energy savings.
In an effort to manage energy cost, Abbott Power Plant -- the campus's own power station -- burns the lowest-cost fuel available at the time, whether it be coal, natural gas or fuel oil.
Coal is purchased on a multiyear contract to secure the price at the lowest level possible. More coal is burned during the winter months when its cost is much lower than natural gas.
Substantial savings (up to 40 percent) are achieved by obtaining natural gas via a direct connection to an interstate pipeline. More natural gas is burned during the summer when its adjusted price is lower than coal. Fuel oil is generally expensive and therefore burned only sparingly, usually when the availability of the other fuels is low or their costs are very high because of short-term market pressures.
What can you do to help? Make sure your department or office follows the motto: "Concentrate on Conservation!" Review your daily activities and determine if there is any way to perform them in a more energy-efficient way. For assistance or to submit energy conservation ideas or suggestions, contact Rawls Walden at 244-6160.
The "Energy Conservation Corner" is published regularly in Inside Illinois. Questions about energy-conservation programs or practices on this campus should be directed to Jeff Buenting at 333-1364 or email@example.com