MCS Among Organizations to Help Offset High Energy Usage
(Memphis) Several companies and organizations across the Mid-South are voluntarily scaling back on air conditioning during peak hours.
The Tennessee Valley Authority explained the “demand response” program is used throughout their region, and that voluntary participants sign contracts with their local utility company, like MLGW.
When TVA sense high usage across the system, authorities ask these participants to reduce their energy consumption.
Local Memphis participants include the Tennessee Air National Guard, Steel Warehouse of Memphis, Bellevue Baptist Church, and Memphis City Schools.
TVA said that while they are fully equipped to handle the usage, this plan allows them to manage the system more effectively and economically.
Reducing consumption during certain times prevents TVA from having to turn on additional power plants or purchasing power from external sources, which would be costly.
While people like the idea of relieving the power grid, one situation resulted in upset parents.
On Thursday, Memphis City Schools received notice to reduce their energy consumption at around 1:30pm. Many of their buildings’ thermostats were adjusted to 78 degrees. This setting usually kicks in at 3:00pm each day, but this request from TVA made them implement this setting an hour or two earlier.
Andre Maxwell, a parent whose daughter is enrolled in summer camp at Germanshire Elementary School, noticed the building was hotter than usual.
“They had the lights dimmed, but still I walked in, I saw the faces of the people in the building. People were uncomfortable. More importantly, not to disregard the health of an adult, but these are kids…kindergarten, first grade, second grade.”
He said that turning the thermostat up after 3:00pm is a lot better than doing so between 1:00 and 2:00.
Maxwell said, “At 1:30, that’s part of the hottest hour of the day. So if it’s 110 degrees outside, they may cut the thermostat up to 78, but you can bank on it it’s going to feel 10 degrees warmer than that in the building.”
He understands the benefit of the program, but says, “That’s perfectly fine. Just let me know in advance, because I can make other arrangements for my child.”
It is unclear how much advanced notice can be given out to parents, since the requests are made based on peak usage on any given day.
Memphis City Schools said on average, they receive such requests four times per year, mostly during the summer.