CONTACT: CHARLES S. DRUM
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0048; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: May 22, 2001
UI plans for energy-saving shutdowns this summer
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Officials at the University of Iowa are planning for
a long, hot summer with some of the highest utility rates in history. This
means planning for those times when use of electrical power in many parts
of the campus may be reduced to save energy costs. And this summer for the
first time, the curtailments could affect most -- if not all -- buildings
John Amend, UI associate vice president and director, facilities services
group, describes this summers energy curtailment program as "the
UI's most aggressive to date." To help departments cope with possible
disruptions in their work schedules, the university is holding a meeting Wednesday,
May 23 at 3 p.m. in Macbride Auditorium. There, staff members of the facilities
services group will share details of this summer's energy curtailment, hear
concerns, and answer questions.
The UI generates some electrical energy at its own power plant and has a
contract with MidAmerican Energy to provide additional electricity to the
campus. Part of this contract includes participation in MidAmerican's electrical
curtailment program, which limits electrical usage during peak periods. Curtailment
-- meaning reduction of electrical power for up to six hours -- can be requested
by MidAmerican between June 1 and Sept. 30. The program benefits the university
through lower utility costs.
In previous years, Amend says, the university has been able to avoid affecting
certain buildings on campus because they contain critical research or other
activities that cannot lose power. This year, he says, that approach may not
be possible, and while the specific critical functions will be protected,
other activities in the buildings could be affected.
A number of curtailment strategies will be used to reduce power use in most
buildings on campus, including increasing air temperatures, cycling air conditioning
systems on and off or even turning them off completely during the curtailment,
shutting down ventilation systems, and/or turning off non-essential lighting.
In the few buildings where these strategies will not work, either because
of their special occupancy needs or for technical reasons, departments will
be asked to voluntarily reduce energy use.
"Because the effects this year will be so widespread, its very
important that we have the widest possible understanding of the program,"
Amend says. "We hope that every university department and organization
on campus will send someone to the meeting, not only to hear what we have
to say, but to confirm we are aware of their specific concerns." The
only units not directly affected are those on the Oakdale Campus, which is
not covered under the contract with MidAmerican Energy.
The university has tentatively scheduled a practice curtailment for June
21 to ensure that the total campus electrical load can be sufficiently reduced.
"If the university fails to meet reduction levels in a real curtailment
the penalty would be significant," Amend says.
For a list of the buildings affected or for more information about the curtailment
program, see the web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~fusfsg/.