Demand Response Case Study: University of Maryland Reduces Consumption by 20 Million kWh

In 2006, the State of Maryland adopted legislation for the reduction of energy consumption throughout state buildings–the State Buildings Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act–geared to reduce energy consumption by 5 percent in 2009 and 10 percent by 2010 (see sidebar). Regional businesses in the local regional transmission organization (i.e. the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland (PJM) Interconnection) subsequently received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to develop additional energy-efficiency programs.

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All of this coincided with the timing of energy-efficiency programs being considered at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). The university began working with PJM Interconnect, LLC and Comverge, a provider of demand response (DR) and energy-efficiency programs, to reduce energy consumption on campus and find cost-effective ways to save energy and expenses.

Aerial shots of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
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“Serving as our curtailment service provider (CSP) or broker in the PJM demand response programs, Comverge became a facilitator for reducing our peak demand and overall consumption, which ultimately contributed to reducing our carbon footprint and emission levels,” said Michael Krone, UMB utility operations manager.


UMB enrolled in Comverge’s Real-Time Economic Load Response Program and Reliability Pricing Model (RPM) Program.

Some examples of the strategies that UMB and Comverge are implementing for participation in the FERC-sponsored PJM DR programs include:

  1. Use an existing 20,000 ton-hour/2,000-ton output thermal-storage system to shift air conditioning load from daytime on-peak operation to nighttime off-peak operation.
  2. Remotely controlling all public area lighting and turning off all nonessential lighting loads during periods of high demand.
  3. Real-time switching of lighting and HVAC loads via remote control from occupancy sensors (based upon occupant levels) and the local building automation system (scheduling of hours for real-time control).
  4. Temporarily raising HVAC return-air set points for periods of 30 minutes or less to reduce cooling demand. (Given a typical building’s level of thermal inertia of 45 minutes or greater, this effort is totally transparent to the occupants.)
  5. Putting a portion of the campus chilled-water production on a current limiting mode for 30-minute periods. (To ensure the transparency of this activity to the building occupants, only a fraction of the overall production is put into the conservation mode at any time and the operation is shifted between production facilities over time.)
  6. Deployment of a building automation network that monitors and controls the individual automation system in each building from a central location.
  7. Interconnect and group together building-chilled water plants to optimize chilled-water production.

Comverge worked closely with UMB facilities managers to keep them up-to-date on energy market prices, new energy-conservation opportunities and helped with technical support. UMB has had a long-standing business relationship with Comverge and recently extended its contract for DR program-support services. UMB is also looking to use Comverge for participation in the PJM Synchronized Reserve (SR) Program (see additional sidebar), which is similar to the real-time market and RPM programs (except that participation hours are extended to evenings and weekends, which will require additional technical support).


UMB reduced its load to date by more than 20 million kWh since July 2006. That is the equivalent of two months worth of electrical consumption for the university, or powering 10,000 homes with electricity for two months.

“UMB is a great example of what just one campus can do to reduce its energy load and lessen the carbon impact. ” the university should be commended for its innovation and forward thinking,” said George Hunt, Comverge senior vice president of the Enerwise Group.

Details on the State Buildings Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act

The State Buildings Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act stipulates that all state agencies shall reduce their energy consumption by 5 percent by 2009 and 10 percent by 2010 from a 2005 baseline. The DGS, in cooperation with Maryland Energy Authority (MEA), are to set forth energy performance indices for each agency. Each state agency is to conduct an analysis of each building under its jurisdiction of its gas and electric consumption and the cost of this consumption. It also states that all state agencies will submit to MEA an energy-conservation plan to include energy conservation measures (ECM) to achieve the reduction goals. ECMs cited in the bill include energy performance contracting, energy-efficient lighting retrofits, water-conservation devices, weatherization, efficient heating and cooling devices, and employee training.

More information at the MEA Web site:

The PJM Synchronized Reserve Market

The PJM synchronized reserve market provides PJM participants with a market-based system for purchase and sale of the synchronized reserve ancillary service. Demand resources that choose to participate in the synchronized reserve market must: (1) be capable of dependably providing a response within 10 minutes, and (2) have appropriate metering infrastructure to verify response and compliance with reliability requirements and market rules.

More information at the PJM Web site:

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