One-hour electrical load reduction set for June 23 at University Park, 4-5 pm

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — From 4 to 5 pm on Thursday, June 23, Penn State will conduct its annual test of University Park’s ability to reduce its electricity load when called upon during national or regional power emergencies. Last year’s test reduced the power load by 20 percent, about 4.3 megawatts, despite fewer people on campus and less electrical consumption.

University employees and students who are on campus during the one-hour test are asked to turn off all unnecessary lighting, office equipment, coffee pots, dehumidifiers, and air conditioning that is under occupant control.

HVAC systems serving non-critical spaces will be placed into unoccupied mode. Cooling setpoints in occupied classrooms will increase from 75 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit for the one-hour test. Research and critical spaces will remain unchanged. The test should cause no major disruptions and all safety lighting and equipment is exempt and should remain on throughout the test.

Behind the scenes, the Penn State Office of Physical Plant (OPP) will focus on ways to reduce the overall electrical load during the one-hour test, including topping-off water towers, turning off well pumps where possible, and switching specific facilities to generator power.

This annual test event is part of an Emergency 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 the campus relies. This reliability is important for the utility companies because it helps 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.

Employees are encouraged 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, which are connected to emergency power in case of normal power failure. These lights should illuminate the public spaces enough to meet code requirements. Please contact OPP prior to the test if you have any questions concerning a particular space.

Anyone on campus from 4 to 5 pm during the June 23 electrical load reduction event is recommended to take the following actions:

  • Shut off all office equipment and lights that are not needed.
  • Unplug any device chargers not in use.
  • Keep exterior doors and windows closed in air-conditioned buildings.
  • 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 questions, contact Mike Prinkey, senior energy program engineer, at 814-863-4091.

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