Florida's Public Universities Request More Money for Spiking Energy Costs

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Dennis Bailey, Associate VP for Facilities at FSU, says last November the university's utility bill was $900,000, and says that's about average.

"I don't think there is any question that we'll see the spike here at FSU. The question is, how big will the spike be, when will it come and how long will it last?" says Bailey.

The university is asking for an extra two and a half million dollars from the state to help with power expenses. Right now FSU spends about $30 million annually in utility costs, most of which go toward electricity usage.

"It's the primary ingredient we use to provide chill water. It drives our chillers, which provides air conditioning on campus, which in Florida is a much bigger deal than if we were in Minnesota. Natural gas would be the bigger animal," adds Bailey.

"What we need is for our legislature to understand that otherwise, without their help, students are going to have to pay for this. In terms of programs, we're not going to be able to provide because these dollars are going to have to pay for utility costs," explains John Carnaghi, Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration at FSU.

It's estimated utility costs will rise this year between 30 and 40 percent among Florida's public universities. FSU officials predict about a 25 percent spike.

In any case, university officials say they don't want to be placed in a situation where they have to choose between utilities and education.

To decrease utility costs, FSU is using motion sensitive light switches and using a well water system verses cooling towers to help cool the campus' 100-plus buildings.