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Queen's to reduce peak electricity use

By Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer

This summer, Queen’s is once again participating in an electricity peak demand management program, as part of our commitment to financial and environmental sustainability. The program will involve the shutdown of air conditioning systems in a number of campus buildings on roughly 10 afternoons over the course of the summer.

“Programs like this one are common across the province in both the public and private sectors, and our participation can potentially save the university $1 million on its electricity bill, while supporting a sustainable energy system,” says Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic).

Air conditioner shutdowns will occur between noon and 6 pm and affect 16 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.

“Health and safety is always a priority and PPS will closely monitor building temperatures,” says Caroline Davis, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “They will also work with Event Services to minimize the effects on conferences being held on campus.”

About 45 per cent of the university’s $11.5 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 $500,000. 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.