With the state’s university campuses clocking some 52 percent of the energy use of the entire state government, Western Carolina University in Cullowhee has stepped to the front of the class by reaching the state’s mandated goal of cutting energy use by 30 percent — the first campus to get there so far, according to a report in the Smoky Mountain News.
The university’s utility bill of $4.8 million last year was $600,000 leaner because of the reductions, achieved mostly be using natural gas instead of petroleum and turning to the use of electric vehicles. Reid Conway, program manager for the state Energy Office in Asheville, explained in a keynote speech at WCU’s energy-and-environment fair last week that North Carolina ranks 12th in energy consumption among U.S. states, and state buildings account for about a $200 million cost on a yearly basis. He encouraged turning to conservation to reduce the current $3,555 per year spent on energy sources by N.C. families making $10,000 to $30,000 a year.
According to SMN, WCU’s energy reduction was based on 2002-2003 figures, and the goal was reached six years before the state’s target date of 2015.
— Nelda Holder, associate editor