University needs to find better ways to conserve energy

I am writing in response to a March 30 editorial entitled, “Alternative and Renewable Energy Research is a Must.”

While this statement may be true, it does not necessarily mean that the burden to perform this type of research should fall on “flagship” universities such as the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign, which is currently faced with a massive budget crisis.

Furthermore, the University must lead by example by initiating and promulgating progressive energy conservation policies of its own before it can begin to think about researching the issue.

The University is feeling the effects of an economy in recession. As a result, efforts are being made to cut back on spending and conserve energy, but nothing seems to be effective.

This is evidenced by multiple mass e-mails sent by both President Joseph B. White and Chancellor Richard Herman about the budget crisis for future years.

While beneficial, Obama’s 10-year budget proposal which contains $75 billion to fund permanent tax cuts for energy research and experimentation will likely have little notable positive financial effect on a public university funded by a state government with massive debts of its own. It will therefore be hard to fund energy research given the current limited monetary capability of this University.

In his January 21, 2009 address to students and faculty of Illinois President White stated: “The situation in Illinois is this: the revenue shortfall for fiscal 2008-09 is conservatively estimated to be $2.1 billion, and the state has a $4 billion to $5 billion backlog in unpaid bills.”

Most e-mails sent by leaders of this University focus on the recession without addressing the simultaneous energy crisis. The few e-mails that have been sent in light of this issue are merely reminders to “turn off lights.”

This is a request most people have been hearing since adolescence, and is not nearly enough of a step in the right direction. Additionally, the University is negligent when it comes to following the advice they give.

I walk around a daytime campus lit not just by the sun but also by street and sidewalk lamps on a regular basis.

Before the University can even begin to think about energy research they must lead by example and come up with better solutions to conserving energy besides “not in use turn off the juice.”

Joseph J Beer

senior in LAS