Western Illinois University runs on natural gas now

It's back to school for students at Western Illinois University .

Sunday was move-in day for students.

"We're welcoming everybody back that's coming back to school to start tomorrow and we have a few new students that are starting their Western journey kind of mid-way into the Spring semester," WIU Residential Administration Director A.J. Lutz said. "We're excited to welcome them into the residence halls."

Classes at WIU begin Monday.

Students and staff at WIU might notice cleaner air this semester.

The university has transitioned from coal to natural gas to power its campus.

Coal-burning boilers are a thing of the past.

WIU's future now depends on these natural gas boilers.

KHQA asked what the switch over means for the community and students.

"Less emissions," Facilities Management Assistant Director Monte Colley said. "You have a lot more emissions coming out of coal than you do gas."

Colley said the $5 million project was needed to comply with Environmental Protection Agency standards.

"We haven't burned coal for probably about a year, but we just got official approval to demo the coal stack, and the bag house just last week," he said.

Colley says the financial benefits all depend on the cost of natural gas. The completed transition means this coal stack will come down this spring. The university plans to meet with a contractor this week to determine a timeline for the demolition.

"Since we haven't met with the contractor, we don't know if they're going to take it down in one big fall or take it down brick by brick," Facilities Management Director Scott Coker said.

The school also will no longer have to haul away ashes left behind from the coal.

The coal stack was built in the 1920s.