Reducing electricity during peak times a success at Penn State Hershey

July 22, 2015

Each year, Penn State Hershey participates in the Electrical Grid Demand Reduction Program. During the annual test June 25, the electrical load was reduced by 2 megawatts (MW). The Facilities Department, along with the campus faculty and staff, were able to accomplish the load reduction through multiple initiatives including many behind-the-scenes adjustments to large energy-consuming equipment. The task was accomplished while maintaining an appropriate climate for all patient care areas and College of Medicine research labs.

The campus peak electrical load can be as high as 22 MW while the lowest hourly electrical demand is approximately 8.5 MW. This low electric demand usually occurs at night in the spring and fall. The typical summer afternoon electrical demand is in the range of 18-20 MW.

Electric load reduction during peak electric use days helps to keep the electrical grid stable and helps avoid unstable conditions such as “brown-outs” and “black-outs.” Another benefit of electrical load reduction during peak use times is keeping electrical transmission costs stable. Managing peak demand levels is an alternative to transmission investment. There may be a situation where electrical distribution companies forecast that the network will need new investment in five years because electricity demand in the region is predicted to grow substantially. The electrical distribution companies could defer this investment if the organization uses demand response at peak times, slowing down the peak load growth in a region. Less transmission infrastructure means lower electricity costs for consumers.

While these reductions are a test for emergency conditions, the Facilities Department is constantly exploring ways to improve campus energy efficiency.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 22, 2015