MT. PLEASANT — Central Michigan University has become a leader in energy efficiency, at least if the volume of its efficiency rebates from Consumers Energy is any indication.
CMU is Michigan’s top public university in electric savings, according to Consumers. Since the school’s involvement in energy savings programs began in 2009, CMU has received more than $200,000 in rebates from Consumers Energy and DTE Energy.
The school also said that CMU leads in natural gas conservation savings as well.
The school says its total rebate is now $69,708 from DTE and $185,000 from Consumers, for a total of $254,708 since 2009.
Consumers Energy and DTE Energy began to offer rebate programs in 2008 in order to encourage customers to upgrade their energy equipment efficiency. In exchange for taking steps toward conservation of energy, Consumers Energy pays anywhere between 20 percent to 50 percent of the additional costs of making the change.
Fred Alatalo, business energy efficiency operations director for Consumers Energy, believes rebate programs make a positive difference not only for customers who participate but the entire state.
“We think it’s good for Michigan,” Alatalo said. “It saves energy, helps the environment and it also helps develop a value to energy conservation for our customers.”
So far, CMU has upgraded light fixtures on campus to use less energy and automatically turn off when the room is not occupied.
CMU Director of Energy Optimization Mike Walton says the positive results have been seen in the amount of energy consumed on campus.
“We’re seeing a decrease in kilowatt hours,” Walton said. “We’re finding that as campus is growing, our energy consumption per square footage is going down.”
In addition to holding the greatest reduction in electric demand among universities participating in Consumers Energy’s Business Solutions program, CMU also has the most paid project rebate applications, the greatest tally of expected annual energy savings and is a close second in the highest dollar amount of paid incentives/rebates received.
Walton says the three to four year payback return on investment the university has seen in becoming more energy efficient is saving money for the campus, which will encourage the administration to stay committed to the project.
“The administration is seeing the direct benefit of savings as a revenue stream,” Walton said. “We’re always trying to save as much energy as possible. I don’t see the intensity of that going down any time soon.”
Under the programs CMU commits itself to a project that would result in saving energy, be it electric or gas, and then pays to put that project into action. Once it’s done, CMU puts in an application for a rebate to DTE or Consumers.
Based on the efficiency, the utility pays 20 to 50 percent of the additional costs needed to bring the project to life.