City cuts off A/C during heat wave

Dayton saves money by reducing energy use at peak times, officials say.Other local communities also work to conserve energy.

The city of Dayton is trying to curtail energy usage during some of the hottest days of the year to save money and prevent electric rates from rising in the future.

The city has asked its employees to set office and facility thermostats at higher temperatures during some peak-usage times and completely turn off the air conditioning units later in the day.

Reducing electric consumption during peak load periods can save the city tens of thousands of dollars or more annually in energy costs, city officials said.

During the most recent heatwave, however, Dayton’s facilities management division received some requests from employees for “special consideration” to not have to follow the guidelines.

But the city’s energy-conservation recommendations are voluntary and employees should not be uncomfortable at work, said Peter Hager, Dayton’s director of central services.

“There’s no punishment, there’s no retribution — we promote the opportunity to save the city money,” he said.

Other local communities have tried to rein in energy costs through energy audits, facility and technology upgrades and some common-sense practices and activities.

All five of Centerville’s public facilities have obtained Dayton Regional Green 3 certification, and the city participated in a DP&L energy audit and received a comprehensive energy analysis, said Kristen Phillips Gopman, assistant to the Centerville city manager.

Centerville has reduced energy costs and usage by updating lighting, thermostats, heating and insulation in its facilities, she said.

Fairborn is in a contract to curb energy use from the grid during times of high demand, said Assistant City Manager Pete Bales.

But so far, the city has not been asked to curtail its energy consumption, Bales said.

“If asked, the city has an emergency backup generator that provides power to our facilities,” he said. “Therefore, no interruption to business would be noticed even if we were not using power from the electric grid.”

Clearcreek Twp. has installed motion sensitive lights and programmable thermostats to help reduce energy costs, according to Jack Cameron, township administrator.

Riverside participated in an energy conservation project a couple years ago to improve energy efficiency.

The city of Springboro since 2009 has used a computerized cooling system that adjusts temperatures for overnight hours and weekends.

The city of Dayton has asked employees in its roughly 60 to 70 buildings to reduce usage of electricity during high-demand times.

In a Monday email to employees, Hager outlined what he says are the city’s general strategies to reduce electric costs during peak periods, which include raising the thermostat 10 degrees at 2 p.m. and turning off the A/C units at 3 p.m.

Other voluntary guidelines include unplugging unnecessary electronics, turning off or minimizing use of lights, closing blinds and opening windows, he said.

Tuesday was the fourth business day in row that the city was trying to conserve electric use because it counted as a peak load capacity day.

Peak load capacity days are what utility companies use to help determine the electric rates the city will pay in the future, Hager said.

The city can save tens of thousands of dollars — or even hundreds of thousands of dollars — by reducing electric use during these periods, officials said.

Dayton’s water and aviation departments now wait until peak load days to clean their generators, which reduces energy use at these times, and last year saved the city $60,000, Hager said.

Large municipal, commercial and industrial customers tend to need large amounts of electricity at various times, and utility companies must plan and be prepared to supply enough electricity to meet all of their customers’ needs, including high-use, sweltering summer days, said Matt Schilling, spokesman for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

“Imagine a hot summer day when everyone is running their air conditioners — every additional megawatt that needs to be produced from power plants gets increasingly expensive,” Schilling said.

Producing additional electricity is costly, and peak demand charges can account for between 30 to 70 percent of the utility costs paid by commercial or industrial customers, according to Stem Inc., a energy solutions firm.

Some other local communities do not try to limit energy usage during the dog days of summer or leave the decision to their employees.

“This is the time you need it,” said Huber Heights City Manager Robert Schommer, speaking about air conditioning.

Air conditioning is needed around the clock at Xenia City Hall because the police and dispatch operations are located inside, but many employees take it upon themselves to try to conserve energy by cutting the lights when they are not needed, officials said.

Tipp City encourages employees to reduce energy use during peak times, but the city has not issued any official policy or guidelines, said City Manager Tim Eggleston.

Troy does not change the thermostat or cut off the air conditioning.

Yellow Springs keeps the air conditioning fairly high, so it does not need to adjust the thermostat during higher temperatures, said Patti Bates, the village manager.

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