University Issues Energy Alert Following Extreme Weather

By Bénédicte Yenyi Mulumba

University alerts campus community to conserve as much energy as possible following the winter storm.  “Due to an extended stretch of severe winter weather and extremely high electric demand across the Midwest, Facilities & Services (F&S) is designating today through Monday, February 22, as an Energy Alert period for the Urbana campus.” wrote Dr. Mohamed Attalla, Executive Director of Facilities & Services (F&S), in a mass email issued this Tuesday.  

This alert follows the deadly winter blast that killed many with car crashes accross the country and left millions without power in Texas. F&S requests that everyone conserves energy on campus to the greatest extent possible by doing any or all of the following: turn off lights, shut down computers, turn off monitors, unplug printers and chargers or other nonessential equipment in rooms. And for facilities equipment and system, F&S requests to close outside window and doors in conditioned areas and close fume hood sashes when not in use. 

These actions are necessary because the freezing temperatures will continue in the upcoming days. Therefore, it will substantially increase demand on the regional electric grid and require significant energy load optimization strategies from F&S’ Utilities & Energy Services division, Attalla wrote. 

F&S issues Energy Alert messaging to the Urbana campus whenever a peak load is anticipated or urgent conditions arise, F&S wrote on their website. The website explains that the amount of energy the university consumes during the highest rate of demand on our regional electric grid helps to determine the campus’ annual utility rate. And usually, this peak occurs sometimes in either July or August between 2 and 6 p.m. 

Attala reminds the UI community that conserving energy is everyone’s responsibility, in support of the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP), which is the campus’ strategic sustainability plan for achieving carbon neutrality, or net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by 2050 if not sooner. “Reducing the university’s energy consumption, especially during this time of peak demand, is critical to effectively managing resources,” Attala wrote. 

Half of the campus electricity is provided by Abbott Power; however, the remainder is purchased from Midcontinent Independent System Operator, INC (MISO). MISO also issued a public announcement on their website warning the extreme weather and calling the public to conserve electricity.

Attala reminded everyone in the mass email that combined efforts of individuals, departments, colleges, institutes, and schools are needed to increase energy awareness and further promote Operational Excellence in the university’s Strategic Plan “The Next 150.”

Bénie Yenyi

Bénédicte “Bénie” Yenyi Mulumba is a senior majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. She's currently a member of UI7 Live and a researcher in political science department. She was an intern at the China Post when studying abroad in Taiwan. She worked as a news reporter for the Daily Illini, as a writer for Her Campus student-magazine and as an editor for The Spectator - which is Heartland Community College’s magazine. She’s a member of the Black journalists of Illinois chapter and a member of UNICEF. Bénie is fluent in French, English, and Lingala. She’s aspiring to be an international reporter and work with international organizations.