Onorato Announces County Participation in Effort to Aid in Reliability of Mid-Atlantic Electricity Grid

Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato today announced that the County is participating in the PJM Interconnection’s Demand Response Program to aid in the reliability of the regional electricity grid. The PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. PJM serves 51 million people. Through the program, successful participants will receive payments for voluntarily reducing their electricity use when heavy demand threatens the PJM electricity grid and brownouts or blackouts are imminent.

“As participants in this conservation program, Allegheny County has made a commitment to doing our part to ensure a stable and reliable energy system in Pennsylvania and throughout the Mid-Atlantic region,” said Onorato. “The Demand Response Program is yet another step in our ongoing efforts to conserve energy and save taxpayers money.”

The goal of the program is to temporarily reduce electricity consumption during times of peak energy demand to ensure system reliability and to decrease the environmental impacts and economic costs of building new power plants to meet infrequent peak demand.

As a PJM Demand Response Program participant, the County will receive event notifications up to a day in advance, and it will initiate pre-determined measures to reduce energy consumption throughout its buildings. Event days are triggered by power system capacity constraints caused by (but not limited to) a localized system capacity emergency declared by PJM or forecasted high temperatures.

PJM has scheduled a test event from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. today, Thursday, August 19. County buildings that will be participating in today’s test event include the Courthouse, County Office Building, Medical Examiner’s Office, Shuman Juvenile Detention Center, Jail, and all four Kane Regional Centers.

The County’s Department of Public Works has developed specific plans to temporarily reduce electricity consumption throughout County buildings and facilities, focusing on a number of large energy consuming functions, such as air conditioning, ventilation and lighting.

During the test event, as well as actual events, County employees have been instructed to take the following actions immediately:

· Turn off all lighting not necessary for safety or productivity;

· Use natural lighting and supplement it with task lighting if possible;

· Turn off office equipment, computers, printers and other electrical equipment that is not required at the time;

· Use central copiers and turn off smaller copiers; and

· Run laptop computers on battery power if possible;

· Turn off coffee makers and other devices that can be off temporarily.

When the test event is over, the County will begin to slowly restore systems to full operation in order to not spike demand on the electricity grid.