Intercom Online......October 29, 1998

Institute to advise state on energy usage and savings

In a move that could save millions in taxpayer dollars, Penn State's Facilities Engineering Institute (PSFEI) will be monitoring and advising two state agencies on energy usage -- the State System of Higher Education (SSHE) and the Department of General Services.

The three-year contracts that the two agencies have signed with PSFEI are worth a combined $770,000.

"We hope to save money, but we hope to conserve energy as well," said Jim Myers, PSFEI director. PSFEI will manage energy information, including the use of coal, natural gas, fuel oil, steam and electricity, as well as make recommendations on energy purchases, he said. The group will also look for potential savings from the recent electric deregulation by the Public Utilities Commission.

The energy information collected by PSFEI will help the group develop master energy plans for the agencies' facilities. For example, PSFEI already keeps data on energy use at each of SSHE's 14 universities. Myers said the group hopes to create daily usage profiles that illustrate spikes in energy use on a university's campus.

Because it costs utilities more money to produce energy beyond what is normally demanded, Myers said the profiles will allow each school to implement energy management systems or make adjustments, such as spreading out class times, to smooth out the spikes in energy use and save money.

PSFEI currently offers technical expertise to more than 100 state-run facilities.

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