Board approval of energy plan garners praise, disapproval
MSU’s campus is projected to be powered by 40 percent renewable energy by fiscal year 2030, according to the Energy Transition Plan unanimously passed by the MSU Board of Trustees on Friday.
Months of meetings, research and protests led up to the plan’s approval, which underlines the university’s mission to reach 100 percent renewable energy at some point in the future.
But to Talya Tavor, an English senior and president of MSU Beyond Coal, that’s not enough.
“I’m really disappointed that the board chose to move forward with this plan,” she said. “It lacks innovation, real energy goals and a date to retiring the coal plant.”
MSU officials now move to providing annual reports of the plan with five year reviews, said Fred Poston, vice president for finance and operations during the meeting.
“I think it is a living and dynamic plan,” Trustee Dianne Byrum said during the meeting. “Things will change over time, and it keeps in front of the board and administration that we are reaching our goals as aggressively as we can.”
The amount of coal burned at the T.B. Simon Power Plant in 2010 was 29 percent less than what was burned in 2006, decreasing from about 250,000 tons to about 179,000 tons, with an increase in burning both natural gas and biofuel, according to the Physical Plant website.
Trustee Melanie Foster said there needs to be cost-effective and viable clean technology energies to meet the 100 percent renewable energy goal, which currently there are not.
“That’s the easiest argument to make, the technology is not there,” Tavor said, adding student groups now will band together to create an Energy Transition Plan of their own. Tavor said she believes wind and solar energy would be effective ways to power campus.
MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said she has been open to suggestions for the plan during its creation and will continue to solicit input moving forward.
“I think we are advocating for the same broad goals, we just have slightly different ways of getting there,” she said.
Despite ongoing protest, theatre freshman Kara O’Connor said she supports the idea of moving toward renewable energy.
“It seems that MSU really is pushing the whole think green idea,” she said.
The board also unanimously adopted an almost 4 percent increase in room and board rates in the residence halls for the upcoming academic year while rates in Spartan Village and University Village apartments will remain unchanged.
The cost for a double occupancy room in a residence hall plus a silver meal plan will cost $8,476 during the 2012-13 academic year. During the 2011-12 academic year, the rate was $8,154.
Construction projects also received approval to proceed, including $1.2 million in renovations to waterproof the north entrance of the Administration Building and $4.5 million in renovations to the College of Music auditorium. The authorization to proceed on a $5.1 million anaerobic digester on south campus also was approved.