U of C covered for utility costs

By Ruth Davenport

There’s plenty of hot air to be found at the University of Calgary, which may be why the rising cost of gas shouldn’t affect tuition consultation this year.

"The university isn’t raising tuition to cover utility costs," stated Students’ Union Vice-president External Duncan Wojtaszek. "The SU really doesn’t want to link the tuition decision to the shortfalls the university has to come up with."

The costs of electricity and natural gas have skyrocketed in recent months. The net effect on the university utility bill is an increase of over $12 million over the next two years.

"The utility increase shouldn’t affect the tuition decision this year," said Richard Roberts, Associate Vice-president Finance for the U of C. "The assumption will be that the government is going to be able to address the majority of the increase so that there wouldn’t be the need to look for tuition fees to offset the utility cost increase."

A maximum tuition increase would cover less than 50 per cent of the projected utility cost increase, and Roberts agreed that the university is expecting government, not tuition dollars, to address the issue.

Prompted by sudden increases in energy source costs, the government of Alberta has provided one-time funding of $6.2 million to assist with the projected utility cost increase of $7 million for the 2000/2001 year. The government also plans to monitor ongoing cost increases and will put a program in place to respond to those in the next fiscal year.

"There’s always other costs to consider," added Wojtaszek. "Faculty salaries go up every year, the costs of books go up, but the utility cost increase was out of nowhere and the university hadn’t really planned on it."
In addition to increased funding, there is an initiative underway to bring energy efficiency into U of C buildings, explained Roberts.

"We’re doing one building at a time, bringing energy efficient light bulbs in and doing all the things we can do to make the physical plant as efficient as possible," he said.

"Everything we can do to bring the volume side down helps, as the price side continues to go up."

Roberts added that with energy efficiency measures in place, energy use in the Administration building has been reduced by
50 per cent.

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