“When you join the co-ops you become a part-owner of the organization. We’ve inherited the houses from the generations that came before (beginning in 1932!) and we pass them on to the next generation.” Inter-Cooperative Council
With the goal of reducing the cost of housing, the Inter-Cooperative Council (ICC) owns 18 student housing facilities near the University of Michigan Campus. Owned by the students it houses, and without a landlord / owner requiring profits, the residents agree to participate in all aspects of running the facilities in exchange for very reasonable rent that includes food! All the money that is generated from the rent is rolled right back into the housing and covers all the costs of maintenance, ownership, taxes and utilities. The cost of living in the coops is typically $200 less per month than on-campus housing!
To maintain the ability to provide cost effective housing for close to 600 students, the ICC continually evaluates cutting edge strategies for reducing expenses. One strategy that fulfills both the ICC’s goals for sustainability as well as efficiency is taking a close look at reducing the amount of energy being used in their buildings as well as the price that is paid for the required energy.
The ICC contacted The Energy Alliance Group of Michigan for an energy use review. After a thorough on-site evaluation of multiple facilities, a comprehensive list of potential energy saving projects is now under consideration. While those projects continue to take shape, immediate cost reduction possibilities were revealed during the review.
“While the long term goal calls for an overall reduction in the amount of energy being used, an immediate result was achieved by reducing the cost of the energy presently being purchased.” Scott Ringlein, EAG CEO
Just as different auto insurers will quote dramatically different prices for coverage on the same vehicle, providers of natural gas can have significant variation in the price they charge for their product.
Because Michigan is considered a deregulated gas state, there is a choice of suppliers when purchasing natural gas. Even though the delivery and billing for the gas is provided by the state regulated utility company, the gas itself can be purchased from alternate suppliers offering a range of pricing much the same as the auto insurers.
The benefit of buying from alternate suppliers is that their rates are typically lower than those of the local utility company. Alternate supply sources simply don’t have the high overhead associated with the larger utility.
“The benefit of buying from an alternate energy supplier is that their rates are typically lower than those of the regulated suppliers.”
Last week the Inter-Cooperative Council approved the Utility Choice program and will now begin purchasing all of their natural gas, for all of their facilities, at a substantial reduction from what they were previously paying. It’s a big win for the ICC and an important saving opportunity for those students struggling to afford the cost of housing in pursuit of an education.
A holistic approach to an energy strategy requires not only looking at the most energy efficient technologies for reducing the amount of energy being used, but also taking a close look at what price is being paid for that energy.
Alternative energy suppliers are an important consideration when the goal is to purchase energy at the lowest possible price. Congratulations to the Inter-Cooperative Council for reducing the price they pay for their natural gas. Although gas prices vary month-to-month, based on the most recent rates the savings could be as high as 15% compared to what they were formerly paying!