CORVALLIS - Oregon State University students got some good news Tuesday when OSU officials announced they are reducing the new "energy fee" for students to $20 a term, down from $30.

The reduction results from a combination of successful conservation measures the university has applied that have lowered energy consumption, and lower-than-anticipated market rates for electricity and natural gas.

OSU, along with the other Oregon University System institutions, made plans to institute a temporary energy surcharge this fall because of skyrocketing energy costs, according to Rob Specter, vice president for finance and administration at Oregon State University.

"Our campus energy costs have gone up about 32 percent," Specter said, "and that is something of a relief, because several months ago all indicators led us to expect increases of 50 to 60 percent. We were asking students to pick up their share of the cost, and when our estimates of prices went down, it was only fair and proper to lower the price for students, too."

Specter says the proportional share of energy costs that students should be responsible for is about 36 percent of OSU's total energy costs. Rising energy costs have led to a projected shortfall of about $5.6 million in monies allocated for energy expenditures during the next two years, and 36 percent of that shortfall would amount to about $2.02 million.

The $20 a term surcharge is expected to raise about $1.99 million during the biennium, he said.

The temporary energy charge will be applied for the first time this fall and it is expected to last only 2-3 years, Specter said. It will be reviewed annually.

"We have saved money by conserving, as well as via reduced rate estimates," Specter said. "Our conservation program includes using more efficient lighting and automated switches, de-lamping fixtures, tweaking our heating and cooling systems, and reducing consumption," Specter said. "As a university, we've done a good job thus far, but we have to maintain and improve our efficiency because energy availability and costs will continue to be a concern."

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Rob Specter, 541-737-2447