California Reduces Peak Electricity in Universities and Prisons

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has approved more than $6 million in funding to encourage energy efficiency in the state’s public university and prison buildings.

SACRAMENTO, California – The CEC has approved four interagency agreements to help reduce electricity use in public universities and State government buildings in times of peak demand. The approved pacts were signed last month with California State University system, the University of California system, the Department of Corrections and the Department of General Services. The university funds will focus on lighting improvements and upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning, while the prison funds will go toward heat pumps and energy management technologies. Another $8 million was approved to encourage the use of reflective coating materials to reduce the solar heat that is absorbed by roof surfaces and ducts. Such “cool roofs” reduce building cooling needs while reducing the urban “heat island” effect. The agreements are in line with California’s efforts to save 50 megawatts of measurable and verifiable load from State government and university structures. The goal is to reduce demand from the electricity grid in order to prevent energy shortages during the summer peak hours of 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. A megawatt is enough electricity to light 1,000 typical California homes. The CEC will provide $1.8 million to benefit efforts by universities to reduce electricity usage by 4 MW through improved lighting and heating, vacuum and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment and related control projects. The UC schools will receive $420,000 to implement similar lighting and HVAC projects and control systems in various campuses to reduce demand by 1.5 MW. Funding of $500,000 will be turned over to the planning and construction division of the Department of Corrections to provide prisons with heat pumps and peak load verification meters. The money will also go to peak prison load reduction planning and training in both energy management and control systems. The prison system conservation effort supports the overall goal of reducing peak load by 20 MW. A fourth agreement for $3.2 million will provide energy audits, peak load reduction plans and training in UC and State University structures where the State hopes to reduce peak energy use by 25 MW. The programs are part of the CEC’s objective of shaving 200 MW off peak demand in the state through conservation measures by this June. The programs are funded through a bill signed recently by Governor Gray Davis.

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