Eighty percent of Western students approved an increase of the current $4 Renewable Energy Fee to a possible $9 fee known as the Green Fee. However, the Associated Students Board of Directors may only increase the fee to $7.
The Green Energy Task Force, a group of students with the goal of determining the fee amount, considered the election results as well as current University expenses when it proposed an increase of the Green Fee to $7, said Mike Pond, AS vice president for Student Life and chair of the committee.
The Green Fee needs to be approved by the AS Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees by June, Pond said. After that, the AS Board will determine adjustments to the amount of the Green Fee each year, and students can vote on the fee during election time, Pond said.
There is a surplus of money left over from the Renewable Energy Fee, Pond said. If the Green Fee were set at $5, it would be able to sustain projects for another year using the surplus, but after that, there would be no other choice but to raise the fee to $9 in order to go ahead with new projects that the Green Fee would allow, Pond said.
“For right now,” Pond said, “being responsive to the results of the election and trying to be responsible in these times, it may end up being a little too much, too fast if it was at the $9 level.”
The objectives of the fee have already been approved and are not under deliberation, Pond said.
Leah White, resident resource coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, said that with all the budget cuts going on around campus, no matter how much the Green Fee is, it is important to continue working on waste reduction and sustainable energy projects.
The Green Fee was set up to attract quality projects supporting renewable energy and sustainability, said Nick Sund, a member of Students for Renewable Energy.
The Green Fee committee is looking into projects such as a biodigester, an airtight composter that might not receive funding from the university, but might be funded through the Green Fee, Sund said.
“[The biodigester] is an artificial stomach you can throw food waste, leaf litter, poop, anything biodegradable [into] and it acts like an airtight compost,” Sund said. “The waste products are methane, which can be burned for energy, and compost, which can be used on campus grounds.”