Campus racks up $4 million energy deficit

    The long-term effects of California’s energy crisis have led UCSD to a $4 million energy deficit for the 2002-03 fiscal year, universtiy officials said on Oct. 3.

    According to Gary Matthews, assistant vice chancellor of auxiliary and plant services, increased consumption and an increase in the price of natural gas were the root causes of the highest energy deficit in UCSD’s history.

    “”The cost of natural gas has skyrocketed, and it’s fluctuating now,”” Matthews said.

    UCSD operates a co-generation plant, which uses natural gas to produce electricity and hot water. A network of underground tunnels transports the hot water to Revelle College and John Muir College to heat buildings.

    While the co-generation plant provides between 90 percent and 95 percent of the campus’ electrical needs, electricity must still be imported during peak hours of consumption, and that’s when power becomes more expensive.

    “”Our deficit would have been about $12 million last year without the co-generation plant,”” Campus Energy Manager John Dilliot said.

    The funds to fill the deficit were taken from pools of money allocated to the campus’ vice chancellors.

    “”The deficit, percentage-wise, has been shared across the campus, by each vice chancellor, and that has an impact to their bottom line and their ability to do some of the value-added programing or activities or services they would normally do,”” Matthews said.

    The budget for last year’s energy totaled $24 million. Many conservation strategies are being implemented behind the scenes in an effort to reduce energy costs.

    The campus has installed an automated computer system which regulates heating, cooling and ventilation of buildings depending on the time of day and day of the week. Temperature ranges have been widened to use less power for heating and cooling. Sensors that automatically turn off lights have been installed in many buildings across campus.

    Conservation efforts also include an information campaign aimed at students, staff and faculty. As a part of the attempt to educate users, a brochure titled “”Conserve 101″” was placed in many residence halls at the beginning of the year. Campus consumers are encouraged to unplug cell phone chargers when they are not in use, to turn off computers at night and use inkjet rather than laser printers.

    Turning off unnecessary lighting, opening refrigerators as little as possible and turning off appliances when they are not needed top the list of conservation strategies.

    The campus currently produces enough electricity at the co-generation plant to power over 30,000 homes. It is looking to expand its capacity by another 3 megawatts, or about 1,000 homes.

    With the increased demand of new buildings such as the Eleanor Roosevelt College facility, energy consumption must be kept low to avoid another deficit.

    “”We need everybody’s help,”” Matthews said.

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