August 16, 2010

Homewood campus responds to peak electricity demand

On one sweltering day this summer, employees in nonresearch buildings at Homewood were without air conditioning and were asked to turn off as many lights and electronics as possible—all for a good cause.

The campus is participating in the Demand Load Response Program that allows PJM, whose electric grid serves 13 states and Washington, D.C., to ask contracted customers to lower their usage when the system load reaches dangerous levels. In turn, the customers, who are usually notified two hours in advance, are paid in accordance to their agreed-upon usage amount and any further reductions achieved.

Homewood’s four-hour participation on July 7 reduced the campus’s demand by 4,300 kilowatts, approximately 25 percent of its normal usage, helping to solve electric grid constraints, lowering the university’s costs and reducing greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions.

Events are relatively rare and usually last no longer than six hours. The previous one occurred in August 2007.