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Queen's reducing peak electricity use

The arrival of summer also marks the return of Queen’s participation in the electricity peak demand management program.

The program, part of the university’s commitment to financial and environmental sustainability, involves the shutdown of air conditioning systems in a number of campus buildings on afternoons when electricity demand is at its highest.

Ahead of the implementation of the program this summer, Physical Plant Services will conduct a test of the chiller shutdown process on Tuesday, June 14, from 3- 6 pm, affecting: Beamish-Munro Hall; Gordon Hall; Jeffery Hall; John Deutsch University Centre (north retail space); Richardson Hall; Rideau Building; Stauffer Library; Dunning Hall; and Macdonald Hall. The chiller will remain running with a reduced load for: BioSciences - Atrium and Lecture Theatres; Chernoff Hall - Administration Wing and Theatres; and Douglas Library - except Special Collections; and Watson Hall. The hours for the Queen’s Centre and School of Kinesiology are 4-6 pm only.

“This type of program is common in both the public and private sectors across the province, and our participation can potentially reduce the university’s electricity bill by $2.5 million, while at the same time supporting a sustainable energy system,” says Caroline Davis, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration).

During the summer program air conditioner shutdowns will occur between noon and 8 pm and affect 15 campus buildings. The shutdowns will occur on days in July, August and early September when provincial electricity demand is at its highest. Building occupants will notice temperature increases, but where possible Physical Plant Services (PPS) will mitigate this effect by cooling buildings before the shutdown. PPS will issue weekly notices to inform building occupants of the timing of the shutdowns and coordinate with Event Services to minimize the effects on conferences that are being held on campus.

“Our participation in this program also helps promote a sustainable energy system in Ontario by reducing the need for the province to purchase additional power or build new generation facilities, which can have both financial and environmental costs,” says Vice-Principal Davis.

In the 2015-16 fiscal year, about 50 per cent of the university’s nearly $10 million yearly electricity bill is a charge called the “global adjustment,” which is calculated based on Queen’s share of the total provincial electricity demand during the five peak hours from the previous year. Queen’s efforts last summer saved the university $1.6 million. This summer the program is being expanded and will also involve feeding energy back into the grid from the university’s cogeneration facility.

Created in 2005, the global adjustment offsets the costs of renewable power generation and provides an incentive for large electricity users to cut their usage during provincial peaks. This reduces or delays the need to purchase electricity or increase power generation capacity in the province, both of which carry financial and environmental costs.

More information about the program, including which buildings will be affected, is available on the sustainability website. Anybody with questions about the program may contact FIXIT at ext. 77301, 613-533-6757 or by email.