The University of Virginia reduced its electric consumption by 10.8 megawatts on a sweltering Tuesday afternoon.
The reduction came at the request of PJM Interconnection, which oversees the electric grid in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and parts of North Carolina. At about 1 p.m., PJM requested the University reduce it’s electrical draw by 10 megawatts starting at 4 p.m. to prevent overloading the regional electrical grid during a heat wave.
Employees cut consumption by turning off lights and unnecessary equipment and unplugging computers. Several buildings were taken off the grid and operated with generators, including the Main Heat Plant, the South Chiller Plant, Medical Research Building 5, the Clark Hall addition and Wildsorf Hall, according to Ed Brooks, an engineering technician with Facilities Management.
“There was a significant drop in consumption at 4 p.m. and the decline continued until 8 p.m. when the event ended,” said Nina Morris, sustainability outreach coordinator for Facilities Management, who said the University “did pretty well” considering the short notice.
The University had participated in an electricity reduction drill in June and was able to reach its target then. The University has been called on about once or twice a year to reduce its consumption for the past several years.
“I think people are more aware of it now and how they can cut back,” Morris said. “Once we got the word out, we got response from all over Grounds.”
She speculated that people may be willing to participate in electrical use reduction because they have felt the impact of the local storm-related electric outages.
“Nobody wants a blackout,” she said.
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