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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Calif. Lutherans: 'We have candles ready'

Many Americans were shocked by higher heating fuel prices last winter. In California, top that with penalty rates for power. Electricity users got a real jolt.

For institutions on a money-saving "interruptible" energy contract, such as California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, the penalties were stiff for not cutting the power. (Interruptible contracts offer rate discounts to those willing to cut power when asked.) On Jan. 16 when students settled back into dorms for the spring semester, the penalties for that day alone were more than $40,000.

"The college paid more than $200,000 in fines during January," said Carol Keochekian, director of university relations. "CLU has been on an interruptible plan for four or five years and has never had this happen." No more fines are being assessed at this time, she added. Classes continue, but some parts of the campus were shut down to reduce energy use, she said.

Pacific Lutheran Seminary, Berkeley, hasn't had problems yet. "The campus isn't on an interruptible contract," said Jana Adams, public relations associate. "But the student family housing complex is. We've all got our candles ready. And we're all trying to reduce consumption on campus."


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