‘Lights Out ― Power Down!’ a Success

Posted: September 20, 2011 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: September 19, 2011 at 8:31 pm

By Erin Cushing

On June 21, Mason’s Office of Energy Management asked the Mason community to participate in its “Lights Out Power Down!” program to help curtail Mason’s energy use. All students, faculty and staff were encouraged to turn off and unplug all noncritical lighting and appliances for one hour.

The community heeded the call, and from 2 to 3 p.m., lights were turned off, coffee-makers unplugged and air conditioning levels were reduced. According to program partner EnergyConnect, Mason’s Fairfax Campus reduced its electrical use from 2 to 2:30 p.m. by 1,700 kilowatts and from 2:30 to 3 p.m. by 2,500 kilowatts. Mason’s goal was to reduce usage in the hour by 1,500 kilowatts.

Since Mason is a large consumer of electricity, the university participates in the Interruptible Load Reliability (ILR), a program that pays customers in exchange for a commitment to reduce electrical load in the event of a grid emergency situation that could result in outages. The program is sponsored by regional electric grid operator PJM Interconnection, overseen in Virginia by the Virginia Department of Mining, Minerals and Energy and administered by EnergyConnect Inc.

The “Lights Out Power Down!” initiative helped to comply with the ILR commitment. In order to receive payment, program participants must show their ability to meet the load reduction obligation agreed upon.

As a result of successfully meeting its goal during the “Lights Out Power Down!” event, Mason will receive $51,345, which it will use to finance future energy reduction programs. Since joining the ILR program three years ago, Mason has received $233,265 for its annual reduction commitment of 1,500 kilowatts.

The Office of Energy Management thanks everyone in the community who participated in the event and helped make the program a success.

Write to gazette at gazette@gmu.edu