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    HOW THE CITY KEEPS ITS ENERGY USE IN CHECK


    July 22, 2022 - States News Service

     

      The following information was released by the office of the Mayor of Philadelphia:

      Dora Chi and Energy Office Office of Sustainability

      Whe n we crank up the air condition ing to battle another week of smothering heat , or rest by a space heater during a frosty cold front, we put our faith in the complex system s working behind a power switch to keep our spaces livable . But when our collective demand for electricity surges in a short period of time if, say, everyone turns on their air conditioner s during a heat wave a lack of proper d emand management can force us to turn on costly back up fossil fuel-powered generators or worse , trigger catastrophic blackouts. The City of Philadelphia participates in two initiatives that not only help reduce stress on the power grid , but also give back in the form of cost savings and financial rewards , which are used to fund energy efficiency projects for municipal buildings.

      System Peak (" Red Day ") Alerts

      "Red Days" happen when the City is projected to experience the highest demand for electricity, and they sometimes coincide with extreme weather events such as heat waves. They're also opportune times to save on energy bills.

      Every year, the City's future energy pricing is partly determined by how much energy it used during "Red Days", also known as its Peak Load Contribution (PLC). The more energy City buildings consume during periods of peak energy demand, the higher the PLC fees are on next year's bills; however, if the City defies expectations by reducing energy use and easing the burden on the power grid, the fees are lower.

      The Energy Office team sends Red Day" Alerts reminding building operators to proactively reduce energy use during peak times, therefore lowering energy costs for the coming year. Previous efforts to lower energy use during "Red Days" will save the City an estimated $1 million through part of 2021 and 2022!

      Demand Response Program

      The Demand Response Program calls on building operators to drastically reduce energy use during grid emergencies, when electricity demand is intensifying to a point it threatens blackouts. When the City responds by reducing energy use toward a pre-determined goal, the Energy Office is then rewarded with a check that can fund energy efficiency projects. As of July 2022, the City has not experienced a grid emergency in eight years, but it undergoes an annual audit testing its ability to lower energy use in case of an emergency event. Most municipal buildings hit the energy reduction target during last year's audit, earning the City potentially up to $250,000.

      Through Red Day Alerts and the Demand Response Program , b uilding operators are often working behind the scenes adjust ing lighting and temperature , and shut ting off non-essential electrical equipment , for instance to achieve critical energy savings. As climate change brings about mor e extreme weather events, managing our energy demand and transitioning towards greater energy efficiency is key to maintaining a stable power grid that can continue supporting our needs.

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