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Amy Dalrymple, Published November 15 2009

Higher education notebook: Mayville State tests coal plant this month

Mayville (N.D.) State University will test a new coal plant this month that will ease the burden of escalating energy costs.

This will be the first winter Mayville State will not depend on No. 2 fuel oil, which in recent years has been volatile in price and contributed to a financial deficit at the university.

The fuel oil cost 87 cents a gallon in 2003, but jumped to $4.16 a gallon in 2006, said Steve Bensen, vice president for business affairs.

Over six years, the campus had to reallocate money from other areas to cover an extra $1.1 million in fuel costs, Bensen said.

The cost of coal has been more stable, and the cost of the plant –

$5.5 million – will pay for itself in energy savings over 15 years.

Officials also investigated geothermal heating and wind power, but the upfront investment was too costly, Bensen said.

The coal is from Montana, which is a harder grade than North Dakota coal and has fewer emissions, he said.

The plant, on the west side of campus, is expected to be operating the first week of December. The university will maintain the ability to use fuel oil, but coal will be the primary heating source.

The plant will use about 2,800 tons of coal over the heating season.

Credit bank

The Midwestern Higher Education Compact has received a $100,000 grant to explore the creation of a multistate credential repository that aims to improve graduation rates and bring savings to students, families and taxpayers.

If implemented, the repository would let students bank or store college credits they have earned from multiple campuses in a single location. Students could also document workplace training and other learning experience.

The information would be made available to colleges and universities to evaluate, and the campuses would then bid for the opportunity to facilitate the completion of a student’s degree.

The grant, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will benefit the 12 states in the regional organization, including North Dakota and Minnesota.

Larry Isaak, president of the organization, said this initiative will help the growing number of students who start and stop their education over the course of several years and often at several campuses.

Health issues talk

Minnesota State University Moorhead will host a discussion on global health issues and disparities at 7 p.m. Monday in the Science Lab building Room 104.

Gina Aalgaard Kelly, assistant professor in MSUM’s School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership, will give the presentation, which is free and open to the public.

Topics will include global partnerships that promote health for all citizens, a description of sociocultural, political and economic determinants of health, disparities and health status, and human development and health systems in developing and industrial countries.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590 or adalrymple@forumcomm.com