The "energy crisis" that is supposedly gripping the Northeast has not alarmed the Harvard administration.
"The energy crisis is less of an imminent emergency than the oil dealers would lead you to believe," Stephen S.J. Hall, vice-president for administration, said yesterday.
In Cambridge, most Harvard buildings use steam provided by the Cambridge Electric Company, but a power plant owned by Harvard supplies the entire Medical School Area with its power and heat.
Hello, Sulfur Dioxide
William Murphy, direct of Buildings and Grounds, said yesterday that while the oil companies have sufficient supplies of oil, the air pollution standards forcing Harvard to burn low sulfur fuels have brought shortages in the low polluting fuel.
Murphy said that the oil companies have had difficulties in supplying the low sulfur fuels. Because of the crisis, however, Boston has lifted temporarily the regulations restricting the sulfur content of the fuel.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold hearings on Monday to investigate the shortage of the low sulfur fuels. The regional administrator of the EPA expressed amazement yesterday that the reported shortage of the low sulfur fuel could come so suddenly.
Murphy said that the fuel shortage has caused some deliveries of oil to be off schedule, but these late deliveries have not caused any significant danger of losing heat. "We will make sure we don't get into a position where we will get in trouble."
Murphy explained that since Harvard has had business with the oil companies for a long time, Harvard is in a better position than most small homes if the crisis ever becomes acute.
He added that during any temporary crisis in the oil industry, Harvard would watch the level more closely.
Murphy said that Harvard usually has its tanks refilled when there is a quarter of a tank of oil left. However, he pointed out that during the current shortage of oil in the New England area, Harvard will watch the level of its tanks more carefully and may refill them when they are half empty.