Campus Life

Electricity reduction test to take place Thursday, June 21

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- From 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 21, Penn State will again test the University Park campus' capability to reduce its electricity load when called upon during national or regional power emergencies. Last year’s test reduced the power load by 20,000 kilowatts -- 1.5 times the electricity demand of all the homes in Bellefonte -- but the high temperature was 10 degrees lower. Thursday's heat may mean this “test” is a real event. University Park occupants are asked to limit all unnecessary electrical consumption under individual control.

The Office of Physical Plant (OPP) will be working behind the scenes to reduce the overall electrical load remotely during this one-hour test. However, since extremely high temperatures are predicted for the east coast on Thursday, all University employees and students are requested to turn off all unnecessary lighting, office equipment, coffee pots, dehumidifiers and air conditioning. University offices should stay open and operate in a normal manner while reducing their consumption of electricity.

This test event is part of the Interruptible Load Reduction (ILR) Program, which is an emergency "capacity" response in which participants pledge to reduce their energy load by a specified amount. The objective of the ILR Program is to protect the day-to-day reliability of the regional grid upon which our campus relies. If successful, the University will receive compensation proportional to the load drop; that compensation will be used to support additional energy conservation projects. In 2011, the University spent $24 million on electricity. Passing this test will help Penn State meet both its environmental and financial goals.

All employees are urged to do their part. Employees may notice that some indoor temperatures in noncritical spaces have been adjusted by 4 degrees to lower air conditioning loads. Other spaces may have their HVAC equipment operation schedule changed to the “unoccupied” setting. Most other initiatives will be transparent to employees. The test will not cause any extended outages or major disruption of normal electrical services. All safety lighting and equipment is exempt and should remain on throughout the test.

Here are recommended actions to take during the test:

-- Shut off all office equipment and lights that are not needed (computers, monitors, printers, copiers, coffee makers and task lighting).

-- Unplug iPod, digital camera and cell phone chargers not in use.

-- Keep exterior doors closed in air-conditioned buildings. Make sure operable windows are also closed.

-- Personal space heaters should not be used to compensate for excessive air conditioning and are NOT permitted in University buildings unless provided by OPP for extraordinary circumstances.

Everyone is asked to cooperate by turning off all unnecessary electrical loads during this one-hour test. If this turns out to be a real event, the exact time may change and you will be notified. For further information, visit, or contact Paul Ruskin at or 814-863-9620.

Last Updated September 04, 2012