The operating and maintenance staff strive to operate the plant as efficiently as possible and keep the equipment in good operating condition. This minimizes the fuel burned and lowers emissions.
Since steam, electricity, and chilled water cannot be stored in significant quantities, the Power Plant must continuously produce the needed energy to meet university demands. Therefore, if the university community can reduce its energy use, there is an immediate reduction in the amount of fuel burned and air pollutants emitted into the environment.
Due to new construction, additional research activities, and the use of computers, the university's demand for energy continues to increase. Over the past 20 years, electricity consumption has increased by more than 60 percent and chilled water consumption has increased by more than 50 percent. However, during the same period, steam used to heat buildings has decreased by approximately seven percent, even with significantly more buildings on campus.
It is true that new buildings are constructed to be more energy efficient, but today's electrical demands have a direct and significant effect on the university. Much of the electricity used for lighting, computers, research equipment, and other items also produces heat, which reduces a building's heating requirements while increasing its cooling requirements.
Unfortunately, these changes in energy demands have a negative impact on operation of the Power Plant. The plant's overall efficiency drops as the need for electricity far exceeds the opportunities for Combined Heat and Power. Today only 20 percent of the electricity used by the university can be cogenerated. The remaining 80 percent is either generated by the Power Plant like a conventional utility, or purchased from outside sources, whichever is most economical at the time.
Consumption of electricity is an energy use easily controlled by the consumer of that energy. Consumers can shut down computers, lights and research equipment not in use, resulting in an immediate savings to the university and a reduction in air pollution. Reductions in consumption of steam (for heating campus buildings) and chilled water (for cooling campus buildings) also can be obtained by better control of temperatures inside buildings.
Energy Savings Plan
The university's goal is to save $1.5 million in energy costs every year as compared to the average usage in FY98-FY01. To accomplish that, we have put together an Energy Efficiency Task Force made up of a cross-section of people from various parts of the university, and created an Energy Savings Plan.