The university’s aggressive energy plan – launched this summer in response to the state’s power crisis – mobilized the university community into an energy conservation team that helped prevent rolling blackouts, shaved the university’s power bill by $35,000 and saved enough electricity to supply up to 1,000 homes for a month, Plant Operations officials report.
The energy plan included an earlier summer hours schedule than in the past, removing half the lights in all buildings and a unique team of students who visited offices with energy saving messages and measures.
Fresno State employees – joining in to fight the state’s energy crisis – were seen flicking off light switches behind them, working in window-lit offices and walking in darkened hallways as they helped reduce the demand on the substation circuit feeding the university by 1.25 megawatts during the summer when the university uses 8.1 megawatts.
At the fall staff and academic assemblies last week, President John D. Welty praised the university community for helping conserve 25 percent this summer.
“Everyone should be proud of their accomplishments and the relief they helped provide to California during this crisis,” Welty said.
Dick Smith, director of utility management in Plant Operations, called the plan – which was looked at as a model by other community organizations – and the employees’ efforts “a resounding success.”
A comparison of June 2000 to June 2001 shows that kilowatt hour usage dropped from 3,323,821 kWh to 2,521,357 kWh, Smith reported.
“That’s a reduction of 802,464 kWh or 24.1 percent,” he said. “We saved enough electricity to supply roughly 800 to a 1,000 homes for a month.”
He also said the demand on the generation power plants by the campus was reduced by nearly 1,000 kW, freeing up generation capacity for another 1,000 homes.
Smith said the power bill dropped from $227,020 to $192,687, a savings of nearly $35,000. “With our energy plan and everyone’s support, we certainly made a major contribution to reducing the threat of rotating outages to the state,” Smith said.
Fresno State’s conservation measures this summer’s complied with Pacific Gas & Electric’s curtailment program, which exempted institutions from rotating outages if they reduced their load by 15 percent during every rotating outage period.
Chief among the measures was the de-lamping project with the university trimming its electrical demand by removing half of the lights in all classrooms and offices and installing new, high-efficiency fluorescent lamps.
Servi-Tech Controls Inc. of Fresno performed the service over a six week period beginning June 25. Pacific Gas & Electric incentives paid for 60 to 70 percent of the de-lamping project, Smith said.
The new summer hours schedule that opened the campus at 7 a.m. and closed most offices by 3:30 p.m. also helped, Smith said. In the past, summer hours were 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Regular 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours for the academic year resumed this week).
“By coming to work earlier this summer, employees left before the hottest part of the day, so the air conditioning was turned off during the peak electrical demand period, non-essential lighting and equipment was turned off and thermostat settings were raised,” Smith said.
The university’s energy saving plan also included the creation of the “Energy Saving Bulldogs,” a team of five specially-trained students hired full time during the summer to visit campus offices and advise employees on ways to save energy.
They provided one-on-one involvement with employees by touring campus buildings, looking for opportunities to reduce energy consumption, turning off unused lights and encouraging the use of natural daylight where available.
The team members were available for questions and tips on how to reduce energy use as well as solicit employee’s suggestions about other ways to conserve. During Stage 3 Alerts, they canvassed the campus to turn off non-essential lighting to cut usage by 10 percent.
“The team served as a proactive step designed to help office personnel identify ways they can save such as sharing one refrigerator or coffee pot for several offices and turning lights off in unoccupied rooms,” Smith said.
A common sight on campus this summer was darkened hallways and offices reflecting the team’s efforts. Smith said this was all “accomplished without endangering the health and safety of the students, faculty or staff.”
Smith said copies of Fresno State’s plan were requested by Fresno Pacific University, Westlands Water, the State Center Community College District, the County of Fresno, Guardian Glass, the Kings River Conservation District and PPG Industries.
The plan, formulated earlier this year by the university’s Plant Operations and Energy departments and approved by President John D. Welty, was circulated within the campus community for feedback last spring, said Robert Boyd, director of Plant Operations.
The university’s academic deans reviewed the plan and approved its contents, Boyd added. The university’s energy plan, with other energy conservation measures outlined in the plan included is available at www.fresnostatenews.com.