For the 12th year in a row, the Virginia Tech community exceeded its goal during the annual Lights Out!/Power Down! event held on June 24 on the Blacksburg campus.

During the designated 90-minute time period (1:45 – 3:15 p.m.), the university reduced its campus electrical power demand to an average of 19,300 kilowatts from 22,300 kilowatts peak earlier in the day, a 3,000-kilowatt reduction. The demand goal for the 2021 event was 20,800 kilowatts for the hour.

Virginia Tech will receive approximately $128,000 for successfully participating in the program.

Since 2010, Virginia Tech has received more than $1.9 million by participating in the Interruptible Load Reliability energy reduction program. The program is part of Virginia Tech’s agreement with PJM Interconnection, Virginia’s regional electric transmission grid operator, and is managed by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy and administered by CPower.

As a large consumer of electricity in the region, Virginia Tech’s participation helps mitigate the loss of power in the broader community during times of peak energy usage, such as hot, humid summer afternoons and early evenings. This program allows the university to test its ability to meet that demand should those conditions occur.

“Together, we exceeded our goal by turning off lighting, turning down air conditioning, and turning off or unplugging computers, appliances, and other electronics during the hour. Empowering collective changes in behavior is a key principle throughout the 2020 Climate Action Commitment and remains a critical factor as we strive toward carbon neutrality as a university by 2030,” said Mary-Ann Ibeziako, assistant vice president for infrastructure and chief sustainability officer.

The 2020 commitment includes 15 recommendations for advancing long-term university sustainability over the next five-to-10 years. Among the energy-related recommendations are:

  • Aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
  • Aim to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030.
  • Strive to improve the efficiency of campus energy systems by completing the total conversion of steam plant fuel to natural gas by 2025 and plan for a full transition to renewable steam plant fuel after 2025.
  • Reduce building energy consumption to enable carbon neutrality by 2030.
  • Operations of new buildings Initiated by 2030 will be carbon neutral.

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