Next week’s campus election ballot will offer students the opportunity to vote on a new energy efficiency fee.
The Student Services Renewable Energy Initiative would require undergraduates and graduates to pay $6 per quarter until 2020 to fund renewable energy installations on campus. Unlike other lock-in fees, this initiative, if passed, would not appear again on the ballot for a decade. Of the quarterly $6 dollar fee, $4.46 goes directly to the initiative, $1.50 returns to aid and $0.04 covers for administrative services.

The proposal contributes to the Student Affairs’ Zero Net Energy Initiative, which has set out to achieve power efficiency with on-site energy generation and cease purchases from the gas grid. The plan aims to attain net zero efficiency and LEED certification on the division’s buildings — which include Student Health, the Student Resource Building and the Rec Cen — by 2013.

William Shelor, director of special projects for Enrollment Services, said this renewable energy initiative would not only allow the university to continue to be a leader in sustainable progress, but would also reduce the cost of Student Affairs’ utility bills — which currently amount to about $700,000 a year.

“[With] the goal through conservation and the green technology … we can potentially lower our utility bill,” Shelor said. “[We could then put] money back in Student Affairs.”

Shelor said students who saw a need for the university to adopt renewable energy technologies approached Student Affairs in order to place the renewable energy initiative on this year’s ballot.

“This is complimentary to the Zero Net Energy plan, [because] for us to generate energy … we [need to buy solar panels and other technologies because] the university does not pay for it,” Shelor said.

The Net Zero Initiative is currently funded through credits from utility companies and private donations. However, according to William McTague, director of resource planning for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the initiative would speed up the time the division takes to achieve its energy efficiency goal.

“The goal can take a lot of years [to achieve],” McTague said. “We want to move it up in time and not take 10 to 15 years.”

Gerard Cadiz, a second-year business economics major, said he supports the measure because of the lasting benefits it would produce, despite the added money students would shell out every quarter.

“[I will] be in full support … [because] in the long run it is beneficial for the environment,” Cadiz said. “[It is] just that [other services] are asking for fee increases and you cannot support them all.”

Michael Hewitt, UCSB’s Green Campus Program team manager, said this is the most opportune time to showcase the campus’s efforts in green technology, as well as save money.

“Now is the best time to show where we stand as students,” Hewitt said. “I cannot speak for what will happen next year [if the initiative does not pass], but right now is the opportune time to start saving money.”

In order for the measure to pass, a 20 percent minimum voter turnout is required. If the voter turnout reaches 20 percent, two thirds of those voting must support the initiative. If the turnout is 27.73 percent or higher for measures voted-on by both undergraduate and graduate students, a 50 percent plus one voter approval is needed for the measure to pass.

Voting begins April 19 at 8 a.m. on GOLD or at and ends April 22 at 4 p.m.