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Expansion projects increase energy use

Feb. 7, 2001

Campus commission to study university's needs

By BJ GOERGEN

Staff writer

With multiple construction projects and deregulation on the horizon, officials in the Baylor Energy Complex are preparing to meet the university's increased energy demands. Employees in the complex, formerly known as the Temperature Control Center, work to keep Baylor's energy policy affordable.

'We have implemented several energy efficient changes,' said Ken Pollard, director of mechanical services.

One of the changes is the formation of a new energy commission, which will meet for the first time on Tuesday. The commission was formed to 'stay on top of issues in a timely fashion,' said Dick Carver, superintendent of the Baylor Energy Complex.

The commission, which includes representatives from each campus building, will discuss past initiatives and future concerns, such as how Baylor will cope with deregulation in Texas and how to meet rising energy needs.

'There is potential for deregulation,' Pollard said. 'But it's an unknown that worries us a little bit.' Terry Preuninger, general manager of TXU Electric and Gas's Waco office, watches California's recent crisis with interest. TXU provides about two-thirds of Baylor's energy.

Officials at the energy complex said Baylor is not experiencing an energy crunch right now. However, Pollard links the rising demand for energy with increased square footage.

'Students don't cause energy consumption to go up, buildings do,' Pollard said.

Baylor is currently equipped to handle the demands of the new seminary and law school buildings, but the new science building will be a challenge, Pollard said.

'When Baylor adds a new building, their overall energy usage tends to increase,' Preuninger said.

TXU meets with its customers in groups to determine their long-term energy needs. At times, TXU plans up to 15 years in advance for new growth, Preuninger said.

However, Baylor does not consult with TXU before new construction projects begin because TXU does not directly service each building, Preuninger said.

The energy complex produces approximately one-third of its energy from a generator during peak energy months and purchases the remaining energy needed from TXU. The complex then distributes electricity to different buildings as needed. Most college campuses are set up with a central operations center on campus, he said.

The administration conducted an energy audit in 1990 that showed the importance of long-term planning. Officials locked into natural gas prices a year ago, and saved money when the prices doubled.

Long-range planning has helped Baylor to stay on top of rising costs, Carver said.

Pollard said 'energy prices are high, but Baylor does a good job of balancing its resources.'