Employees encouraged to reduce electrical usage for June 23 load test

June 09, 2016

From 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 23, Penn State will conduct its annual test of University Park’s capability to reduce its electricity load when called upon during national or regional power emergencies. Last year’s test reduced the power load by 31 percent, about 10 MW, during the test hour.

All University employees and students are asked to turn off all unnecessary lighting, office equipment, coffee pots, dehumidifiers and air conditioning. University offices should stay open and operate in a normal manner while reducing their consumption of electricity.

The Office of Physical Plant (OPP) will work behind the scenes to reduce the overall electrical load remotely during the one-hour test. OPP’s efforts will include changing HVAC systems serving non-critical spaces to the unoccupied cycle, implementing a 4 degree temperature setback (75 degrees to 79 degrees) in occupied classrooms, “topping-off” water towers and turning off well pumps where possible and switching specific facilities to generator power.

Please note, research and critical spaces will remain unchanged during the test. The test will not cause any extended outages or major disruption of normal electrical services. All safety lighting and equipment is exempt and should remain on throughout the test.

This test event is part of an Emergency DR (Demand Response) program in which participants pledge to reduce their electrical energy use by a specified amount during high use periods of time. The objective of the program is to protect the day-to-day reliability of the regional grid upon which our campus relies. This reliability is important for utility companies because it helps them avoid a blackout. If successful, the University will receive compensation proportional to the load drop, and those funds will be used to support additional energy conservation projects. In 2015, the University spent $15.7 million on electricity for the University Park campus.

Employees are empowered to reduce lighting in public spaces. This includes all empty classrooms, corridors and hallways where lower light settings are available. Corridors and hallways in most University Park campus buildings are designed with lights that operate 24/7 and are connected to emergency power in case of normal power failure. These lights should illuminate the public spaces well enough to meet code requirements. Please contact OPP prior to the test if you have any questions concerning a particular space.

Recommended actions to take during the test:

  •  Shut off all office equipment and lights that are not needed (computers, monitors, printers, copiers, coffee makers and task lighting);
  • Unplug iPads, tablets, digital cameras and cellphone chargers not in use;
  • Keep exterior doors closed in air-conditioned buildings. Make sure operable windows are also closed;
  • Personal space heaters should not be used to compensate for excessive air conditioning and are not permitted in University buildings unless provided by OPP for extraordinary circumstances.

Everyone is asked to cooperate by turning off all unnecessary electrical loads during this one-hour test. For further information, contact Mike Prinkey at 814-863-4091 or Alex Novak at 814-863-0432.

For more information about other sustainability activities and initiatives at Penn State, visit sustainability.psu.edu.

Last Updated June 09, 2016