Sunday, February 09, 2014

Solar supported by a microtax: a step toward saving the LSU system, says professor Brian Salvatore

Miserable Walk by jawbone54
Walk, a photo by jawbone54 on Flickr.

How to save the ailing LSU system is a puzzle that has not provoked a lot of answerers. But LSUS science prof Dr. Brian Salvatore (PhD chemistry, U of Penn) has architected a proposal: look to the future in energy resources for a fund that would benefit the LSU system. "Louisiana could start building a renewable energy and energy efficiency endowment now," says Salvatore.

A 0.33% "microtax" on Louisiana's refined petroleum products and liquified natural gas exports could build a $2.5 billion endowment over a period of 8-10 years, continues the prof.

The principal of this endowment should not be touched for at least 25 years. If invested well, this endowment could provide about $5 billion in interest over a 25-year period. This would allow our universities to use the interest (ca. $200 million per year) to enhance the energy efficiency of our buildings according to LEED certification standards and to install solar energy on our campuses.

A 3 MW solar energy installation on the LSUS campus, for example, would generate about $270,000 of electricity per year (at today's electricity rates). That is money that could be re-invested back into higher education on every campus. Such a system would likely cost under $4 million to install five years from now, and it would have a lifetime of at least 40 years. Funds to pay for LEED-certified renovations of our campus buildings and our energy infrastructure as well as a portion of the cost of new LEED-certified buildings could also be provided by this endowment.

After 25 years, the endowment principal itself could then be reassigned to some other purpose, if need be (like the nearly insolvent state pension system, for example). Our universities and the Environment would continue to reap the benefits from the installations and renovations even after the endowment were reassigned.

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