A motion brought before the Students’ Union Council to introduce a pay-as-you-go scheme for energy use by college residents appears to have been rejected by the Trinity Accommodation Office, which described it as “not practical”. Last year a Trinity News survey showed that residents on campus face higher energy costs than residents at any other major Irish university.
Currently, a limited number of residents pay by “energy deposit” in the first and second terms of the academic year. They can claim back money which they save through their own energy conservation efforts, following assessments of their meter. However, metering is limited to standard rooms in New Square, the Rubrics, and in the Pearse Street Residences, according to Accommodation Officer Anthony Dempsey.
A fixed energy fee is charged to residents of Goldsmith Hall, Botany Bay, and the Graduates Memorial Building. This fixed fee is labelled a “deposit” on the Accommodation website. No provision for reclaiming money from the “deposit” is available in these areas of campus, offering residents no incentive to conserve energy and cut costs. The position on the “deposit” remains unclear for residents in Front Square. It is neither listed on the Trinity accommodation website as being subject to the fixed fee, nor was it mentioned by Mr Dempsey, when asked by Trinity News, as an area on campus individually metered for electricity.
The SU Council recently discussed the matter. “Many students use less energy than afforded to them by their energy deposit” the Council heard in a motion proposed by Ashley Cooke, SU Environmental & Ethical Trading Officer, “A fixed charge system disincentives conservation of energy in student residences.” Mr Cooke also said that many residents were unaware they are entitled to claim back money as “this is not actively publicised by the Accommodations Office.”
Mr Dempsey said in response that “it is not practical to install any form of individual metering. The main elements of utility charges are heating and hot water and these are supplied by district heating systems.
“No element of profit is built in to these services.” It appears, following the debate and response by Mr Dempsey, that no change is imminent on the issue of energy charges.