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Regional Energy Conservation Drill Reduces Load


Results generally the same as in previous years

Anchorage/Mat-Su/Kenai- Officials from regional governments and utilities estimate an across-the-board energy load reduction of between 1-2 percent from expected levels last Wednesday between 6-8 p.m., the period of the third 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 megawatts used during the test and compared those figures against same-time, prior and post day usage.

As in previous years, test results were impacted by variables such as temperature, daylight, potentially unrelated load reductions from large energy users, etc. This year, nighttime temperatures dropped five degrees from Tuesday (the day before the test) to Wednesday's test period. This may have dampened the public's enthusiasm for turning down the heat. Even with these challenges, officials involved in the test expressed confidence that this year's results largely mirror previous years.

In addition to the measurements conducted by the utilities, a Hays Research Group poll was conducted over the weekend. Out of 402 Southcentral (Anchorage, Kenai, Mat-Su) residents, 63 percent were aware of a possible natural gas delivery problem, and more than 47 percent were aware of the Oct. 19 conservation test. About 24 percent of respondents 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."

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; Matanuska-Susitna Borough; ENSTAR, Chugach Electric Association, Municipal Light & Power, Matanuska Electric Association, Homer Electric Association and the Municipality of Anchorage.


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