For four years, Coal Free IU, along with several other campaigns, has asked the University to stop burning coal.
The Board of Trustees took a step toward granting the request Dec. 7 when it approved the Integrated Energy Master Plan, a document that defines ways in which the University can reach maximum energy efficiency, with an accountability measure.
While many Coal Free IU members claimed the approved plan means IU has committed to stop burning coal, Mark Land, university associate vice president for public affairs and government relations, said to be careful about making such a broad statement.
“The energy master plan commits to working toward that goal,” he said in an email.
But the plan also includes provisions for accountability, including a yearly review of clean energy, and Coal Free IU President Michael Caldie said the organization is satisfied.
“We have driven hundreds of calls from students, faculty, alumni, community members and allies to the administration over the past two days to show that all eyes are on IU as it makes this decision,” he said. “After four years of students demanding that IU stop burning coal and invest in a clean energy future, administrators finally listened.”
Land said the University was listening before, too.
“It should be noted that for the past year, only 5 percent of fuel we have used in the past year to run our steam heat and hot water plant has come from coal,” he said. “We have been using natural gas because it has been much less expensive of late.”
The plan notes that IU’s coal-fired boilers are getting old, but it’s too expensive to replace them.
Vice President for Capital Projects and Facilities Tom Morrison explained to the trustees that the University could save $9.7 million annually on efficiency measures, and it would take about 10 years to break even on the initial $82.5 million investment.
Lauren Kastner, Coal Free IU vice president, said the University would then invest the savings in clean energy.
Morrison and the trustees recognized Coal Free IU for its input.
“For us, it was the war in Vietnam,” Shoulders said. “For this generation, it is a fight for their future and their children’s future, a fight for clean air and clean water. What they are asking for is not unreasonable. In fact, we’re doing it.
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