On March 17, the University of California Board of Regents voted unanimously to implement a three-year energy efficiency program.

Under the new energy plan, the UC will establish a partnership with major state utility companies in an effort to cut costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve sustainability practices. The university will take out 15-year revenue bonds to generate the approximately $178 million in external financing necessary to carry out 900 energy efficiency projects between 2009-11.

UCSB alone will undergo over $17 million in sustainability projects funded by revenue bonds, investor-owned utility incentive payments and equity.

UC spokesperson Trey Davis said the program is a strategic plan designed to cut back on costs and trim energy consumption. The alliance between UC and state utilities, he said, will also help to reduce the university’s environmental impact.

“The projects will help improve the university’s [triple] bottom line of reducing costs, reducing energy usage and protecting the environment,” Davis said.

Currently, the ten UC campuses have a combined purchased utilities deficit of $40 million. Mike Bocchicchio the UC Associate Vice President for Facilities Administration, said in a press release that the UC’s energy costs are expected to spike 8 percent annually for the next few years, adding to the existing deficit.

However, under the new energy efficiency program, the UC’s annual utility costs are projected to decrease by $36 million annually. In addition, the UC anticipates cutting system-wide electricity usage by around 11 percent and natural gas consumption by about 8 percent.

According to the press release, the energy efficiency program will follow parameters established in the UC’s 2008 Strategic Energy Plan, which outlined energy efficiency initiatives for nine of the ten UC campuses and four UC medical centers.

The 900 efficiency initiatives will range from $3,000 to $1.4 million each and include projects such as lighting system upgrades and replacements, motor replacements, variable speed drive installations and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning.

Although Davis said each of the facilities outlined in the Strategic Energy Plan will profit from the program, UC San Diego will receive the heftiest portion of the funding – nearly $73 million worth of projects by 2011 – from the program.