Virginia Tech's Office of Energy and Sustainability is encouraging all students, faculty, and staff on the Blacksburg campus to participate in its “Lights Out!/Power Down!” event to be held on Thursday, June 23, from 3 to 4 p.m.

Community members will be asked to turn off and unplug, if appropriate, all non-critical lighting and electrical loads during the one-hour event to kick-off the university’s summer electrical demand management program.

What can people do to save energy? A few suggestions include

  • turning off office, common areas, and hallway lights;
  • turning off personal computers and peripherals not in use;
  • turning off shared electronics (televisions, projectors, copiers, printers, fax machines, etc.) when not in use;
  • unplugging appliances (coffee makers, refrigerators, washers/dryers, cooking equipment, etc.) whn not in use; and
  • turning off laboratory equipment not in use.

Throughout the day, Facilities Services employees will canvass buildings to encourage and assist building occupants to turn off and power down. In addition, Facilities Operations HVAC staff will be reducing air conditioning levels in select, non-critical areas. Those impacted will be notified prior to the event.

As a large consumer of electricity, Virginia Tech has enrolled in “Interruptible Load Reliability” (ILR), a demand response program that pays customers in exchange for a commitment to reduce electrical load in the event of an electrical grid emergency condition that could result in outages.

Virginia Tech participated in the program last year with a 3,000 kilowatt reduction commitment and received a $162,210 phased-in payment for its participation. This year, the university increased its commitment to 6,000 kilowatts, and will receive a $204,831 payment if it successfully completes its participation.

ILR is sponsored by regional electric grid operator PJM Interconnection, overseen in Virginia by the Virginia Department of Mining, Minerals, and Energy and administered by EnergyConnect Inc.

Such commitments by large electricity consumers help electrical utility companies to meet the peak electricity usage (demand, measured in kilowatts) that typically occurs during hot, humid summer afternoons and early evenings. The ability for their largest consumers to conserve significant amounts of energy allows them to continue to maintain the service needed and avoid brownouts and blackouts without having to install expensive additional capacity.

Program participants must successfully demonstrate for one hour their ability to meet their load reduction commitment. “Lights Out! / Power Down!” will coincide with Virginia Tech’s scheduled demonstration test.

Campus electric power consumption will be closely monitored by both Facilities Services personnel and EnergyConnect before, during, and after “Lights Out! / Power Down!” to determine the impact of campus participation.

“Full university participation is needed during ‘Lights Out/Power Down’ to reach our goal," said Fred Selby, Virginia Tech’s energy and sustainability manager. "This effort will not only help us reduce our electrical demand, consumption, and cost, but most importantly, it will count towards reducing our carbon footprint. These are win-win opportunities for both utility companies and their customers.”

This initiative is part of Virginia Tech’s larger commitment to reduce campus GHG emissions to 80 percent below 1990 emission level by 2050 as outlined in the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment Resolution and Sustainability Plan.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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