Photo: Georgia Perry/ WFIU
IU isn’t the only university burning coal. Mark Tucker releases steam from the coal-burning furnace in the Ball State University coal plant.

IU Bloomington is considering transitioning completely to natural gas instead of using coal to heat its facilities.

The Vice President for Capital Planning and Facilities Tom Morrison will present an energy master plan at a public forum Monday. A copy of the master plan, which still has to be finalized, says the campus power plant that currently burns coal should transition to natural gas because of pressure from environmental regulations that will likely take effect over the next 10 years.

Vice President of Coal Free IU Lauren Kastner says her group hopes the university will seriously consider the input of students and faculty when finalizing the plan.

“The energy master plan is a huge accomplishment for the university.” Kastner says. “And Coal Free IU is actually responsible for encouraging the university to have this public forum. So that the public, students and faculty can really have input, and have the transparent administration within the university.”

The campus power plant has already made a partial switch to natural gas. IU spokesman Mark Land says the university cut its coal use this year because of changes in the energy markets.

“You can actually burn natural gas with our current system now. We have been doing that almost exclusively for the last several months, because natural gas prices have been lower,” he says.

Last year, IU Bloomington used around 60,000 tons of coal. Since then, the university plant has been burning about 80 percent natural gas and 20 percent coal.

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