Calif. sites run low-power test

Calif. sites run low-power test

BY PATRICIA DAUKANTAS | GCN STAFF

During a 90-minute statewide electrical load-reduction drill on May 24, the California operations of two federal organizations reported saving at least a megawatt each.

State officials organized the drill because California has suffered rolling blackouts since January. Last month, President Bush ordered agencies to reduce peak-hour electrical consumption at their California sites by 10 percent [GCN, May 21, Page 1].

About 128 sites of 20 agencies participated in the power-shortage dress rehearsal, said Melissa Chiechi, public information specialist with the Energy Department's Seattle regional office.

Forty office buildings managed by the General Services Administration took part to see how much load they could remove from the power grid, said Mark Levi, a buildings management specialist in GSA's Pacific Rim region.

The mock Stage 3 alert for federal sites occurred between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. PDT, Levi said. During a Stage 3 alert, the state's power reserves are sufficiently low enough that the California Independent System Operator can declare rolling blackouts.

Private-sector organizations and state and local agencies held 90-minute drills at other times the same day, Levi said.

He described preliminary test results for a multiagency federal building in Oakland, Calif., with about 1 million square feet of office space. Though data was still being analyzed last week, the building's electrical load dropped about 1 megawatt, or about 25 percent of normal usage, Levi said.

Computers still on

The savings resulted mostly from adjustments to the air-conditioning system, Levi said. It helped that May 24 was not particularly hot.

'We didn't pull the plug on anybody,' Levi said. GSA did not require any offices to shut down their computers or servers.

'We were trying not to disrupt people's working day,' Levi said.

By encouraging voluntary shutoff of computers and lights, Camp Pendleton's largest electrical substation saved 1.6 megawatts, said Lt. Col. Scott Nelson, maintenance officer for the Marine Corps site near San Diego.

'Everybody kind of did their part,' Nelson said.

He said he did not know how many computers were turned off during the 90-minute drill. n

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