Frequently Asked Questions
Curtailment Season – June 1 to September 30
What is Curtailment?
Curtailment is the reduction of the university’s electrical consumption during peak usage periods during the summer. These periods usually occur during mid afternoon and early evening (think of dog day afternoons). These periods will not last longer than 6 hours and historically have started between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.
What is the Electrical Curtailment Program?
The university generates about 30% of its electricity at its power plant and contracts with MidAmerican Energy to provide the remainder of electricity to campus. This contract includes active participation in their Electrical Curtailment program with the goal of controlling and reducing the use of electricity during peak summer usage periods. Participation in this program allows MidAmerican Energy to distribute its electrical load evenly to it consumers forestalling critical shortages and avoiding high distribution charges from other vendors.
Why do we participate in the curtailment program?
The agreement provides a financial benefit to the university through lower electrical rates while MidAmerican benefits by avoiding the purchase of expensive power from other suppliers and by not having to construct new power generation facilities. Additionally, through good stewardship, we all benefit by lessening our environmental impact on the planet.
It is our intent to meet the goals of the contract while minimizing the impact to normal campus operations. There are two incentives for participation in curtailment which particularly standout. First, conservation of energy will result in a reduction of our impact on the environment. Second, the current budget situation has created a need for the entire campus community to participate in cost-saving measures. While this specific curtailment program is part of a contract with an outside vendor, the university will benefit in cost savings if we all voluntarily reduce energy consumption on an ongoing basis. The slight discomfort we may experience during curtailment may prevent the necessity of budget reductions to activities that are vital to the university’s mission.
It is not intended that the university or UHIC activities and business be placed at risk or unreasonably inconvenienced by curtailment efforts.
How long does the program last?
Our participation starts June 1 and continues to September 30. The university, may be required to complete up to 16 curtailments during this period.
How and when will notifications be made?
Whenever possible, MidAmerican Energy will warn us of a potential curtailment 12 hours, or more, in advance. We will notify the campus by email and also contact University Communications & Marketing who will generate an immediate media release. We will also post an alert on the Facilities Management home page and the Building Coordinators web page.
If curtailment is to proceed, MidAmerican will send us a confirmation notice at least 30-minutes prior to curtailment. At this point we will notify the campus by e-mail confirming the curtailment, and the estimated time frame of the curtailment. Due to changing electrical demands, MidAmerican Energy is not always able to give us a 12-hour warning. In this case we will receive at least two hours notice and will notify the campus by email at the earliest possible time.
What will be curtailed?
Typically, we target cooling related equipment (chillers, fans and pumps) and lighting. We also have agreements with certain researchers who avoid using their high-demand equipment during curtailment periods.