Energy cuts made a difference

August 2, 1999

Campus workers made a difference last week with their efforts to cut energy use to help cope with power demands created by soaring temperatures.

“We were able to avoid a energy crisis situation because of your cooperation,” Physical Plant director John Harrod says in a memo to campus facility managers and building occupants.

Campus personnel voluntarily cut electricity use to help ease demand across southern Wisconsin’s power grid. The university is a major customer of Madison Gas & Electric Co.

The Physical Plant also cut off the chilled water that cools 20 campus buildings to help maintain temperatures in critical areas including UW Hospital and Clinics and animal research labs.

The move meant that workers in those 20 buildings worked without air conditioning as outside temperatures soared to nearly 100 degrees.

“Without that sacrifice, it would have been impossible to keep up with the needs of the campus,” Harrod says

The university prepared an energy conservation plan in 1997 to deal with potential power shortages. The plan establishes a three-level priority system for shutting down equipment during an energy crisis, with the highest priority given to equipment essential for human health, temperature-sensitive research and animal quarters.

The hospital is equipped with electricity generators to maintain power in case of an unexpected power failure.

The university also has plans in effect to safeguard research animals in the event of a power emergency, says Rick Lane of the Research Animal Resources Center (RARC). Making sure animal holding facilities are safe and comfortable is second in priority only to the hospital.