By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Mississippi universities will direct $1,175,000 toward increasing their energy efficiencies over the next few years.
The U.S. Department of Energy has allocated $725,000 to help reduce energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020 on Mississippi’s public, four-year campuses. The Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration and the Institutions of Higher Learning worked cooperatively to land the grant.
TVA has committed $50,000 per year for the next three years to each of the IHL campuses in its service area – the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University and Mississippi University for Women – to add its support to the project.
“IHL has been at the forefront of energy efficiency in state buildings for a number of years,” said Karen Bishop, director of MDA’s Energy and Natural Resources division. “To maximize the award, we plan to create a strategy that can be replicated through state agencies and can be used by local units of government.”
Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones said environmental stewardship is something administrators must consider in leading the universities.
“Our students are waking up thinking about that … how they’re going to hold us accountable,” he said.
In a written statement, Gov. Phil Bryant said, “Reducing energy spending in our state’s public buildings is important to me, as it will save significant tax dollars while helping us move toward being a more energy- efficient state.”
“We’ve had a retrofitting project on campus that started many years ago,” said Larry Sparks, vice chancellor for administration and finance at Ole Miss. “I think we’ll return much more than (the grants) to our bottom line.”
The USDOE will allocate $7.9 million to help 13 states develop cost-saving, whole-building retrofit programs in public facilities through its Advancing Energy Efficiency in Public Buildings category of competitive grants. Mississippi’s grant was the largest in the category.