Campus passes power curtailment test
Expecting a 4 percent reduction, officials report a 10 percent cut overall in energy use

By Diane Ainsworth, Public Affairs

26 April 2001 | Electricity use on the central campus fell slightly more than 10 percent — better than expected — during a one-hour energy curtailment test conducted March 28, according to technicians in the Technical Services-Physical Plant Office.

“We had anticipated a demand reduction of at least 1,000 to 1,500 kilowatts, or about 4 percent, but actual reduction was over 2,400 kilowatts, or a little more than 10 percent of the campus load,” said Paul Black, senior engineer in Technical Services-Physical Plant. “The load reduction we achieved was better than expected.”

The test was carried out to measure employees’ response to a short-notice request for electrical load reduction and to help the campus prepare for a series of four-hour energy curtailments it may face this summer as California grapples with its energy crisis.

“Power curtailments are very likely to occur because Berkeley, along with other UC campuses and California State University campuses, will be participating in a voluntary state of California demand relief program,” Black said.

The program — details of which are being worked out — is intended to prevent rolling blackouts by having large utility customers deliberately reduce load at times of heavy demand, he 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.

Although warned of the test, campus staff and faculty were not told what day or time the test would be conducted, Black said. E-mail notices were sent to all building coordinators and zone maintenance shops about one hour before the test was to begin, instructing them to inform workers of the 60-minute test.

The energy reduction test began at 2:15 p.m., at which time occupants were asked to shut off unnecessary lights, computers and small appliances, such as coffee pots, spare copy machines and idle office equipment for one hour, Black said. “Various heating, ventilating and air conditioning loads were curtailed, and we started one of the emergency generators near the Life Sciences addition.”

Staff and faculty efforts to reduce electricity resulted in a 650-kilowatt reduction in electricity use, Black reported.

“Those efforts were better than we anticipated, and are likely to be even higher during an actual curtailment, since the test took place during spring break, when we have fewer people on campus,” he said.

Switching to an emergency generator curbed power usage by another 350 kilowatts, only slightly better than was expected. Shutdown of various heating, ventilating and air conditioning loads cut electricity by another 1,400 kilowatts, but is expected to be less than that during a power curtailment, Black said. That’s because actual curtailment of heating and ventilation will be achieved in a “rolling” shutdown.

“These are extremely good results,” Black said. “Based on the data, we think we can achieve the 4 percent reduction during an actual summer curtailment.”


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