By NATHAN GREGORY
Mississippi State University is receiving funding from both the United States Department of Energy and the Tennessee Valley Authority to help improve its buildings’ energy efficiency.
Funds from the Department of Energy — totaling $750,000 — are from a grant for which the Mississippi Development Authority successfully applied on behalf of the state of Mississippi in conjunction with Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration and the state’s Institutions of Higher Learning.
TVA will also commit $150,000 split evenly over a three-year period to MSU and to the other two public universities in its service area — Mississippi University for Women and the University of Mississippi.
MDA Energy and Natural Resources Division Director Karen Bishop said the grant was awarded under a 2012 State Energy Program competitive grant application under the category of advancing energy efficiency in public buildings.
“Mississippi’s award is the largest award made to any state in that category. This award will create a path for the IHL Energy Council in its work to begin to implement energy management strategies in the state in the creation of a retrofit strategy for all state universities,” Bishop said. “To maximize the award we plan to create a strategy that can be replicated throughout state government and within local units of government as well. The collaboration of state agencies, universities, non-profits and TVA to implement this project shows that Mississippi is committed to energy efficiency and demonstrates a willingness to work together to further Gov. (Phil) Bryant’s mission to save taxpayer dollars through improving the performance of state buildings and through increasing energy efficiency.”
TVA Mississippi Energy Efficiency Manager David Sparks said other MSU projects will also qualify for the company’s commercial incentive program, which is a program that pays 10 cents per kilowatt hour for energy efficiency improvements and can pay up to 70 percent of the capital cost of those projects. TVA’s contribution, he said, will help MSU develop an energy efficiency road map.
“This partnership with the state of Mississippi to promote energy efficiency leadership at the state’s public universities is the latest chapter in the historical relationship that TVA values dearly. We’re proud to support the state of Mississippi and the Institutions of Higher Learning for the remarkable energy efficiency efforts that have occurred and the opportunities that are before us,” Sparks said.
According to a report referenced by MSU Vice President for Campus Services Amy Tuck, MSU already realized a 35-percent reduction in energy use per square foot and has saved more than $20 million in energy costs from 2007 to this year. These funds, she said, will help the university move forward even further in achieving more efficient sustainability.
“We are very proud of those statements but we want to be even more aggressive, and by the efforts that are announced here today with those incentives and resources available we’re going to continue to work even harder. These new funds will give us additional opportunities to take our energy efficiency to the next level,” Tuck said. “MSU currently maintains and operates a 26-megawatt natural gas turbine generation plant and a 15-kilowatt solar panel installation in partnership with TVA. (With) both Mississippi State and our partners, we are forward-looking in our efforts to create improved efficiencies. This kind of collaboration serves our institutions of higher learning and it serves our state in protecting resources.”
Gov. Bryant said in a press release that he is pleased to see the state was awarded the funds and hopes the universities can use them to their maximum potential.
“Reducing energy spending in our state’s public buildings is important to me, as it will save significant tax dollars while helping us move toward being a more energy efficient state,” Bryant said. “I am proud of the interagency collaboration among MDA, DFA and IHL to secure this award and am grateful to TVA for being so supportive of this initiative and committing funds to further bolster the project.”