Regional Energy Conservation Drill Reduces Load by approximately 2-4 percent
Results generally the same as last year
Contact: Sarah Erkmann
Anchorage/Mat-Su/Kenai- Officials from regional governments and utilities estimate an across-the-board energy load reduction of between 2-4 percent last Wednesday night between 6-8 p.m., the period of the second Energy Watch conservation drill.
Conservation was measured by both local natural gas and electric utilities in Southcentral Alaska. Natural gas savings were calculated and measured by analyzing consumption trend lines from before, after, and during the conservation test period. On the electric side, conservation was measured by analyzing actual kilowatts used during the test and compared those figures against same-time, prior and post day usage.
Of note is the difficulty in determining precisely what load reductions were because of variations in temperature, daylight, potentially unrelated load reductions from large energy users, etc. Even with this challenge, officials involved in the test expressed confidence that this year’s results largely mirror last year’s.
In addition to the measurements conducted by the utilities, they commissioned a Hays Research Group poll that was conducted over the weekend. Out of 408 Southcentral residents, 69 percent were aware of a possible natural gas delivery problem, and more than 55 percent were aware of the Oct. 20 conservation test. About a third claimed to have participated in the test.
“These numbers prove we have been largely successful in communicating the challenges associated with gas deliverability in Cook Inlet,” said Mayor Sullivan. “Citizens armed with the right conservation tools could make the difference in keeping the lights and heat on in the middle of a cold winter night. I want to thank our friends on the Kenai Peninsula and in Mat-Su for their support, as well as the enthusiastic participation from our utilities. This has been a group effort and we all benefit as a result.”
This year, local officials reached out to local businesses to encourage their participation. This resulted from community feedback last year, which recommended that businesses be more involved in future energy reduction exercises.
The conservation drill was designed to gauge how much energy could be saved during a gas delivery shortfall. Should such a problem arise, residents of South central Alaska would first be asked to take actions in the Yellow or “Caution” section of the Energy Watch chart. Those actions include turning down the thermostat to 65 degrees in living areas; postponing laundry and dishes, lowering the water heater to “warm”, minimizing use of gas ranges and turning off unnecessary lights and electronics. A cooperative conservation effort will hopefully mitigate the last-resort need for rolling blackouts.
Utilities and governments that participated in the drill include: the Kenai Peninsula Borough; Mat-Su Borough; ENSTAR, Chugach Electric Association, Municipal Light & Power, Matanuska Electric Association, Homer Electric Association and the Municipality of Anchorage.