Campus prepares for energy curtailment testing
Officials hope to achieve minimum 2 percent electricity reduction

By Diane Ainsworth
Public Affairs

19 March 2001 | The central campus will participate in a one-hour energy curtailment test during normal operating hours sometime the week of March 26-30 to measure employee’s response to a short notice request for electrical load reduction. The test will help the campus prepare for a series of 4-hour energy curtailments it may face throughout the summer.

The day and time of the test will not be announced until one hour prior to the test, said Paul Black, senior engineer in Technical Services-Physical Plant. Building coordinators will be notified prior to the test and asked to inform building occupants.

"We are deliberately withholding the precise time of the test so that we can realistically measure the campus’s response to a last-minute emergency request to curtail electrical usage," Black said.

The test has been scheduled for spring break to minimize disruption in normal campus operations. Routine electrical service to the campus will not be interrupted. Rather, the test will let energy technicians measure energy reduction when building ventilation and heating systems are turned off for 30 minutes and occupants are asked to shut off unnecessary lights, computers and other electrical devices for one hour. Small appliances include floor heaters, coffee pots, spare Xerox machines and other spare or idle office equipment.

"Our office will monitor power reduction in 20 to 30 buildings on central campus, which will include some campus buildings that are used primarily as laboratory facilities, such as Valley Life Sciences, Tan and Koshland halls, all of which require around-the-clock temperature control and high amounts of electricity on a daily basis," Black said." The test will not be evaluating power use reduction in any off-campus buildings.

"We are hoping to achieve at least a 2 percent energy reduction (or 500 kilowatts) during the test, which is what we will want to match during a statewide stage 3 energy alert over the summer," he said.

Power curtailments are very likely to occur this summer when Berkeley, other UC campuses and California State University campuses participate in a voluntary state of California Demand Relief Program. That program — details of which are currently being worked out — is intended to prevent rolling blackouts by having large utility customers deliberately reduce load at times of heavy demand, Black said. Under the four-month program, which begins in June and continues through Sept. 2001, the campus may be asked to curtail its electricity load for four hours at a time on as many as six occasions per month.

"The primary objective of this test is to make sure we can reach that 2 percent reduction in power when we ask employees to turn off all but the essential office equipment and lighting they need to work," Black said. "The second objective will be to gauge how much of a reduction we get in campus electricity usage overall."


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