Eastern Illinois University President William Perry announced today that items related to the institution's proposed Renewable Energy Center have been pulled from the agenda of Friday's (Nov. 21, 2008) Board of Trustees meeting.
He also issued the following statement:
"A new steam plant for Eastern Illinois University is the first step in providing reliable capacity of thermal energy necessary for our campus. The need for replacement is not in doubt, given the age of our current steam plant. We began consideration of a 'green' steam plant in 2007. Over the period of development, many individuals devoted considerable time and expertise to this project.
"During the development of the project, an unforeseen factor, the current economic downturn, has adversely affected the feasibility of the project. Specifically, credit markets have in the past few weeks considerably tightened. The energy savings under the project must be sufficient to finance the project. The interest rates and terms available in the credit markets do not allow this for a project of this magnitude. Therefore, the project is being put on hold, pending further analysis and assessment of credit markets.
"We are still committed to a 'green option' to our steam plant replacement. This is consistent with our university priority of sustainability and our past achievements and actions in recycling, cutting energy consumption, and cutting water consumption. Given the ongoing uncertainty in credit markets in the near term, we will also consider alternative funding models for steam plant replacement.
"We have learned from our open informational meetings that many in our community were not aware of the most recent campus master plan changes made in 2002, despite the approval of the changes in a public Board of Trustees meeting and any related press coverage that may have occurred. Those campus master plan changes included a planned relocation of the steam plant function to the location proposed in the current project. Since the location and form of a replacement steam plant are major issues, I will be forming a group, to include community members, for consultation with regard to these and associated issues.
"The university's Council on University Planning and Budget recommended in Spring 2008 that another update to the campus master plan update occur. I accepted that recommendation and we will be updating that plan. The community will have representation on the task force that works on the update. We will use Web sites, press releases, open forums and other means to fully inform campus and community on the details of the proposed update, well in advance of any formal action."