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Energy Savings: Less Money Out the Window, More Cash for Education in NC

July 13, 2010

RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina public universities could have additional incentive to become more energy efficient, if a bill sitting on the governor's desk is signed into law. The University Energy Savings and Reinvestment Bill would allow state schools to keep unspent money budgeted for energy costs and use it for additional capital improvements. Currently, unused money must be handed back over to the state.

The North Carolina director of the Environmental Defense Fund, Michael Regan, says this measure would really push the schools in the right direction.

"This incentive allows a university to go after special fiscal savings pertaining to sustainability and energy efficiency, so there is a real incentive for the universities to pursue energy-efficiency opportunities."

As much as 60 percent of savings could be reinvested into additional energy-efficiency efforts, with the use of the remaining savings left to the discretion of individual schools.

Regan says it's a win for the environment, education and the economy.

"These investments will allow these universities to reinvest, spend money wisely in energy-efficiency opportunities, but more importantly, put a lot of people to work, a lot of engineers, a lot of contractors; this is really good for the state."

Over time, the state budget for energy costs at public universities will be reevaluated to reflect the actual cost, once the energy savings are put in place.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC