For the seventh year in a row, the Virginia Tech community exceeded its goal during the annual “Light’s Out!/Power Down!” event held on the Blacksburg, Virginia campus on June 23.

During the one hour time period (2-3 p.m.), the university reduced its campus electrical demand to an average 18,730 kilowatts. The goal was 21,000 kilowatts for the hour.

Virginia Tech will receive a $145,000 payment for successfully participating in the program, bringing the combined total of payments to $1,121,145 since 2010 when the university began participating.

“We achieved our goal by reducing air conditioning in non-critical areas, turning off lighting, and turning off or unplugging equipment such as computers, appliances, and other electronics during the hour,” said Ruben Avagyan, campus energy manager.

The annual energy reduction program, officially called the “Interruptible Load Reliability” (ILR)”, is part of Virginia Tech’s agreement with PJM Interconnection, the regional electric grid operator. The program is overseen by the Virginia Department of Mining, Minerals, and Energy and is administered by CPower Inc.

As a large consumer of electricity in the region, Virginia Tech’s commitment helps ensure that residents don’t lose power during times of peak energy usage, including hot, humid summer afternoons and early evenings. This annual program allows the university to test its ability to meet that demand should those conditions occur. As a program participant, the university remains on load reduction standby each Monday through Friday from 12 to 8 p.m. from June through the end of September in the event of an actual grid emergency.

Those conditions did occur in 2012 and 2013 and Virginia Tech was required to reduce its campus electrical demand for actual “Load Reduction Emergency” events.

This initiative is part of Virginia Tech’s larger commitment to reaching a 50 percent recycling rate by 2020, improving energy efficiency where and whenever possible in campus buildings, to achieving a minimum LEED rating of silver for all new construction, and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. These goals are outlined in the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment, which was approved by the Board of Visitors in 2009 and reaffirmed in 2013.

Learn more about the university’s on-going energy reduction projects and the significant process made to date in evolving to a more sustainable campus.

Share this story