WCU receives NC energy efficiency grants

Western Carolina University is among the recipients of the state’s first Energy Efficiency Reserve Fund grants designed to help state agencies, University of North Carolina system campuses and N.C. community colleges implement power-saving projects.

Western will receive a grant of $80,000 to modify and repair the heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls system of H.F. Robinson Administration Building, a project that will restore the system to its original efficiency levels or better.

“The project will enable us to build an automated system that can be programmed for energy efficiency, including automatic adjustment of temperature, pressure and flow settings, and setback during periods when the building is unoccupied,” said Chuck Wooten, WCU vice chancellor for administration and finance.

When completed, the project is expected to result in annual savings of $50,000, Wooten said.

WCU also will receive a $15,000 grant to convert outdated warehouse lighting to energy efficient systems, which is expected to result in annual savings of $3,000, and a $30,000 grant to inspect and replace steam traps, which is expected to result in annual savings of $40,000.

The projects are among 58 power-saving projects at 10 state agencies, 15 UNC campuses and six community colleges funded through $5 million in grants announced recently by N.C. Gov. Mike Easley. The grants are expected to save about $3.2 million in annual utility costs and conserve the amount of energy needed to power 4,028 homes for a year, Easley said.

“These are effective and creative energy-saving initiatives that can quickly be put into place and just as quickly reap rewards,” he said. “These projects provide substantial savings that will help control the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on energy and help make sure we are not squandering natural resources.”

Easley announced the grants at the fifth annual North Carolina Sustainable Energy Conference. The grants are administered by the State Energy Office, which reviewed more than 200 proposals.