No Sweat for CUNY Colleges during Peak Load Days

September 12, 2013 | Article, Campus Sustainability News

Soaring temperatures in July saw CUNY’s colleges respond to a record eight peak load day events this summer. In the energy business, “load” is the amount of energy a building is using at any given time. During the year, the amount of energy needed, or the “energy demand”, fluctuates depending on weather conditions or the needs of a customer. When demand for electricity is at its highest, that’s called a “peak” period and it refers to the highest amount of electricity being consumed at any one point in time across the entire network system. Periods of peak demand are caused by many users using a lot of electricity at the same time. For example, on a hot day many households and offices will turn up their air-conditioning load simultaneously causing a sharp increase in electricity demand.

CUNY played its part by reducing its energy load in efforts to avoid local brownouts and blackouts and mitigate grid constraint caused by the resulting spikes in demand for electricity during the hot weather.

CUNY’s colleges participate in the New York Power Authority’s ‘Peak Load Management’ program, which rewards large power users able to take steps to curtail their load and help relieve pressure on the grid, most notably during the warmest days of the year. On receiving notice that a peak load event is underway, college’s typically respond by powering down equipment, altering indoor temperatures, shutting off lights and computers, shutting down elevators and escalators and even entire buildings in efforts to lower their electrical demand. By helping to reduce grid constraint, NYPA rewards CUNY’s participating colleges for every KW of load shed during the event.