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UMD Ready for Energy Demands; Industry Partnership Aims to Avoid Overloading Grid

By Maryland Today Staff

The University of Maryland has joined with industry partners to maintain a stable and sustainable electricity supply when energy demands outpace the grid’s ability to supply power, most often during extreme weather conditions.

UMD has been a participant since 2006 in the voluntary “Demand Response Program” with the PJM Interconnection, the electric power transmission system operator that coordinates, controls and monitors the electric grid that provides electricity in Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia and 11 other states. The program is designed to avoid local and regional blackouts and brownouts by reducing usage when the power grid could become overwhelmed.

Due to Facilities Management systems innovation and upgrades, UMD can now largely automate its energy curtailment efforts during the infrequent instances when PJM directs the university to reduce electrical consumption as part of the Demand Response Program. These peak usage events, which are rare and are only done at PJM’s request, typically occur only during the summer in mid-afternoon and early evening and do not last longer than six hours. As with adjustments previously made through manual control of building temperatures or lighting levels, impact to normal campus operations is minimal.

“For more than a decade, this long-standing strategic affiliation has resulted in energy reliability, cost savings and environmental benefits, not only for the university but for the wider community as well,” said Charles R. Reuning, associate vice president and chief facilities officer.

Overall, these efforts contribute to the university’s sustainability goals as UMD works to become carbon-neutral by 2025 through a mix of infrastructure improvement, electric vehicle purchases and targeted investments that offset energy use on campus. Students, faculty and staff are also encouraged to make sustainable energy practices a regular part of their routine:

  • Turn off and unplug all appliances while not in use;
  • Turn off lights when you leave a room; and
  • Keep your electronics on a low brightness setting to save energy.

For more information on the Demand Response Program visit the Facilities Management website.

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Strategic Communications for the University of Maryland community weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.