Trustees to vote on University energy plan

Opponents of the Integrated Energy Master Plan had been flooding his office with calls asking him to reconsider the plan, which goes before the Board of Trustees for approval Friday.

“I am a student and I support a coal-free future for IU,” many of the calls began. “The Board of Trustees must commit to transition off of coal, include clean energy options, not natural gas and increase campus efficiency efforts in the Integrated Energy Master Plan.”

The statement is a script provided by Coal Free IU, which coordinated a call-in day to the offices of the trustees.

“We are driving hundreds of calls to the administration over the next two days to show that all eyes are on IU as it makes the decision,” Coal Free IU President Michael Caldie said.

The IEMP was drafted by 8760 Engineering, a company hired by the University to assess current infrastructure and future energy needs. There are five key recommendations in the document: implement energy conservation projects, repair campus utility systems, prepare to stop burning coal, design more efficiently and conserve energy through the involvement of the campus community.

But members of Coal Free IU are not satisfied with the plan — many members argue it does not go far enough.

“After four years of this campaign, people are still demanding that IU stop burning coal and invest in a clean energy future,” Caldie said. “It is shameful that we are one of the last campuses to still have a coal plant and no plans to phase out coal completely.”

Jerry Williams, senior vice president of 8760 Engineering, said that is not true — he expects coal to be eliminated within the next 10 years because of either legislative pressures or tightened Environmental Protection Agency restrictions. Additionally, it is in IU’s financial interest to eliminate coal, he said.

“What we know is that the boilers that create the energy are getting old. We know we can’t replace them,” he said at a public input session in September. “They simply cost more than we have available. And we think we’re going to move toward a natural gas operation. We’ve already moved that way.”

Until the Board of Trustees meets with the Facilities Committee at 9:45 a.m. Friday to vote on the IEMP, Coal Free IU encourages concerned students, faculty and staff to continue making calls to McRobbie and the Board of Trustees. Calls have been made from as far as California, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, New York and Oregon.

“We have had literally hundreds of calls made just so far (yesterday) into their offices, and I hope they are getting the message that all eyes are on IU right now,” said Alexis Boxer, Sierra Student Coalition Indiana field organizer. “It’s time for action.”

IU Coal Free and its supporters are remaining hopeful the Board of Trustees will consider their concerns, but they’re not ready to quit — even if the IEMP is approved.
“As for next steps, we will cross that bridge when we come to it,” Boxer said.

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