Ole Miss Wins Big with On-Site Generation and Load Curtailment
Like all universities, Mississippi is always interested in keeping costs down. So when they learned of a load curtailment initiative introduced by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) that would allow it to reduce its electricity costs, school administrators were eager to participate. TVA's load curtailment plan is simple.
Like all universities, Mississippi is always interested in keeping costs down. So when they learned of a load curtailment initiative introduced by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) that would allow it to reduce its electricity costs, school administrators were eager to participate.
TVA’s load curtailment plan is simple. In exchange for granting TVA the right to cut off power to the university during peak demand times for up to 72 hours per year, the university is awarded reduced kW and kWh rates on its overall power usage—more than $1 million in annual savings.
The load curtailment plan gave the university a way to save on its electrical bills. But it created a new challenge: providing reliable power to the campus while TVA curtailed its power supply.
Fisher & Arnold, Inc., Memphis, Tenn. was contracted to design and build an on-campus generation facility. At a cost just under $7 million, the new facility houses 10 diesel generators with a maximum generation capacity of 20 megawatts. The facility also has two empty bays allowing for future capacity growth up to 24 MW. According to project manager Chet Puckett, the facility could power the entire campus for up to three or four days.
The system can function in several modes: island mode, where it provides all the power necessary while the campus is completely off-line from the utility; baseload mode, where it provides power supply in conjunction with the utility; and import/export mode where it can provide power back to the utility’s electrical grid.
An energy-management system is another crucial control element within the facility. This system is comprised of three meters located on a relay panel in the switchgear and a server PC running the software package. Each meter fulfills a different function: measuring the overall load requirement, monitoring the power produced by the generators and tracking incoming power from the utility.
“The meters are a small but key part in the system,” notes Puckett. “The information they provide allows the whole system to react quickly to any interruption in power from the utility, whether or not it is scheduled.”