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Power-Conservation Test Was Successful, Penn State Says

on June 29, 2010 5:52 PM

University Park campus employees and students successfully cut their electricity usage by 24 percent during an hourlong conservation exercise last week, Penn State reported.

The campuswide test, which ran from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, was meant to illustrate how well the university can reduce its load on the power grid during national or regional power emergencies. Penn Staters were asked to switch off all unnecessary power-operated devices and equipment, including some overhead lights, for the exercise.

They were allowed to continue using their computers.

In a real power emergency, Penn State spokesman Paul Ruskin said, utility operators would give the university two hours' notice to reduce its electrical load.

He said the voluntary reductions could help prevent damaging regional brown-outs during power emergencies, such as those caused by extreme weather or infrastructure failures.

During the test last week, power demand on campus fell from about 46,000 kilowatts to a low of 34,500 kilowatts, according to Penn State. The amount of the reduction was roughly enough to electrify 5,000 homes, according to a prepared statement.

Average usage for the test hour was 35,000 kilowatts -- more than 1,000 kilowatts lower than the 37,500-kilowatt goal identified by Penn State.

"Employees and students can still make a difference by always turning off unnecessary electrical devices," the university wrote in a prepared statement. "This will help reduce pollution and keep Penn State efficient."

The monthly electricity bill at University Park is about $2 million, Ruskin said.

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