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u'Photo illustration by Joe Rudko/The AS Review'

Shawna Leader/The AS Review

This week, the AS board of directors will decide the level of the Green Fee, which passed by 80 percent in the recent AS election. Once the AS board establishes the level of the fee, it will go to the board of trustees, who will vote on the fee during their meeting in June.

AS Vice President for Student Life Mike Pond, who is the chair of the Green Fee Committee, said that it is highly unlikely that the fee would not be approved. The level that the AS board of directors approves will likely be approved by the board of trustees, Pond said. Part of this is because of the significant student support for the fee, he said.

“Overwhelmingly, the students supported it: 80 percent [approval] and the highest [voter] turnout in 12 years,” Pond said.

A Green Energy Task Force has been established to present to the AS board and make recommendations about where the fee will be set for the fiscal year of 2010-2011. Pond is the chair of the task force.

“It will be kind of our job to prepare the documents for the board of trustees and to see what they need to hear and what they need to see and we’re hoping for the best,” Pond said.

At the AS board of directors meeting last Wednesday, Pond and other members of the Green Fee Task Force were present to present their proposal for the amount the Green Fee will be set at. The committee proposed that the fee be set at $0.70 per credit for up to 10 credits. Setting the fee at $0.50 per credit would be acceptable, with the stipulation that it would have to be raised in following years, Pond said at the meeting.

The committee chose the $0.70 feel level in order to “be responsive to the 80 percent approval but be responsible to the students,” Pond said at the meeting.

At the meeting, AS President Matt Jarrell requested more information concerning the reasoning for the fee level, as he will need solid proof to bring to the board of trustees. Other board members requested more information as well.

If the Green Fee is approved by the board of trustees, it will go into effect fall quarter 2010. The Green Energy Fee Committee will establish guidelines and processes for the fee and its budgetary structure, Pond said. According to documents prepared by the Green Fee Committee, the money from the fee will first go to purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), then to student projects.

The committee will oversee the fee and how funds are allocated, said Brittney Honisch, co-president of the AS club Students for Renewable Energy (SRE) and member of the Green Fee Committee. The committee will also review student proposals for projects which, if approved, will be funded by the Green Fee.

If the fee is not approved by the board of trustees, it is likely that the proposal would be adjusted and worked on by the AS board, with more input from committees and students, Pond said. It probably would not go back to a student vote but instead would be brought again to the board of trustees, he said.

The AS board of directors votes on fees that last for five-year cycles, whereas the board of trustees votes on fees every year, Pond said. Regardless of which fee amount is approved by the AS board of directors and board of trustees, the board of trustees could reset the amount in consecutive fiscal years as they see fit, Pond said.

The current renewable energy fee expires at the end of summer quarter in August. The fee for the 2009-2010 fiscal year was set at $0.40 per credit per quarter (not to exceed $4).

In addition to buying RECs, the Green Fee is intended to fund environmentally-focused projects “that provide substantial environmental benefits and opportunities for student learning,” according to the 2010 Green Fee ballot language. Student projects must increase energy efficiency, decrease energy consumption, generate renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas pollution, according to the ballot language.

The basic process for student projects is yet to be determined, Pond said.

Examples of student projects may include an anaerobic digester for the dining halls or a hydrogen fuel cell, Matt Moroney, vice president of Students for Renewable Energy (SRE), said.

The money is intended for educational opportunities and anyone from any department can propose a project to the Green Energy Fee Committee, Moroney said.

“Who’s to say that only engineering students get this money or only environmental science students get the money? Really, the money’s for everyone,” Moroney said.

Projects will be ranked based on reduction of greenhouse gases, he said. A proposal would require a budget, timeline, mission statement and examples of similar projects from other universities to provide possible project methods, he said. A faculty or staff adviser for the project is also required, Moroney said.

“We want innovative, creative ideas … so students know they’re getting something tangible,” Moroney said.

According to Moroney, projects will probably not start up until a little while after the fee goes into effect. It will take time for people to realize they can propose a project but a website with project instructions will hopefully go live in the fall, he said.

SRE proposed the original ballot language in 2005 and prior to the recent election members of SRE campaigned for the green fee in their classes and in Red Square, Moroney said.

Moroney agreed with Pond that the fee would likely be passed by both boards.

Additionally, a student position may be created next year by the AS board of directors, Pond said. The position would be similar to the AS Transportation Coordinator and would manage and work with the fee on a daily basis, Pond said.
If possible, additional student positions may be created if the workload necessitates it, Honisch said.

For more information about the Green Fee, Pond suggested contacting the AS VP for Student Life at asvp.studentlife@wwu.edu or SRE at sre.wwu@gmail.com.