College of the Sequoias

Fast Facts

Industry: Education
Location: Visalia, CA
Program: EnerNOC Demand Response - SCE
DR Strategy: Curtailment Only
Primary Curtailment Strategy: Lighting and HVAC Adjustments
Annual Payments: Approximately $10,000-$12,000

The Big Picture

College of the Sequoias is a community college focused on student learning that leads to productive work, lifelong learning, and community involvement. Given its location in Visalia, California—nestled on the edge of California’s Sequoia National Forest— college leaders and students are inherently aware of environmental impact, the need for energy reduction, and the overall issue of sustainability.

This progressive community college participates in EnerNOC's demand response (DR) program, which helps protect California’s natural beauty, alleviate the need to build new coal-burning peaking power plants, and prevent blackouts and brownouts.

The program offers high-incentive payments, a simple enrollment process, and a no-risk approach. During demand response dispatches, the college sheds approximately 250 kilowatts (kW) of energy use—giving Southern California Edison, its energy provider, much-needed relief during peak periods. Demand response generates approximately $10,000 - $12,000 in annual payments from EnerNOC to the college. And it delivers a range of other non-financial benefits as well—from funding access to EnerNOC's energy intelligence software platform to inspiring students to be smarter energy consumers.

The decision to implement DR was easy, according to college leaders. Access to real-time energy data for the campus and thousands of dollars in payments made the EnerNOC DR program extremely attractive. Plus, EnerNOC streamlined the process and took responsibility for all aspects of the project, such as installing local meters and monitoring performance during dispatches.

Demand response is the latest innovative program adopted by College of the Sequoias, which has been actively working to conserve energy since 2001. The impact of these efforts is clear. The school has reduced its power bill from approximately $782,000 in 2001 to approximately $622,000 in 2007.

An Education in Energy Reduction

College of the Sequoias is in session during warm months, when air-conditioning keeps the classrooms cool—and frequently strains the California power grid. When the college experiences a DR dispatch, it uses its sophisticated energy management system to increase the temperature by four degrees throughout its campus, while shutting off air conditioning in all public spaces, such as hallways.

“Our first goal is the comfort of our students and staff,” says Eric Mittlestead, dean of facilities and facilities planning. “With EnerNOC DR, we’ve found that we’re able to reduce energy use without sacrificing comfort.” If the college gets inquiries about the change of temperature during dispatches, Mittlestead’s team responds by highlighting that these changes are temporary and part of a DR dispatch. “We received some calls,” he says. “But once we explained what was happening, everyone was very supportive.”

Students were particularly enthusiastic about the program, according to Mittlestead. “When we explained how we were saving energy via DR, they were all onboard, right from the start. They even shut off additional lights and looked for new ways to reduce energy use. Our students know we’re doing the right thing by cutting our energy use. And they’re completely behind the idea.”

This adjustment in air conditioning is aimed at reducing energy use by 250 kW during a dispatch. “EnerNOC demand response is a key part of our energy management and reduction efforts,” says Mittlestead. “Curbing our energy use a few times a year gives us an additional source of revenue. And it’s a creative way to lower our high energy costs. So it makes perfect sense for us.”

The Results

The DR dispatches have gone smoothly for the college. “The college continued as normal, without any disruption,” says Mittlestead. “And everyone has been really supportive—the president, directors, staff, and students. If we have a lot of dispatches during the intense summer heat, we may have to explain the program more in advance. But everyone understands that we need to conserve energy.”

EnerNOC DR payments of approximately $10,000 - $12,000 annually go into a special account reserved for energy conservation efforts. “We pool the money we gain from DR, rebates, and other programs, then use it to invest in other energy-related projects,” says Mittlestead. Programs include lighting change-outs, linking new buildings to the college’s central plant, and other green initiatives.

The Benefits

For College of the Sequoias, the most important benefit of its participation in DR with EnerNOC is the minimal impact on its students. However, the benefits that it brings to the school are significant:

Access to Energy Intelligence Software

As part of the college’s DR efforts, EnerNOC installed advanced metering that streams the school's real time energy data into its EIS platform, which enables staff to view how energy is being consumed on campus and identify potentials areas of waste. “To make efficiency gains, you need to know what you’re using and when,” says Mittlestead. “The metering is a big advantage to us. And best of all, EnerNOC provided and installed it.”

Easy Dispatches

Energy reduction requests come to the college via email and phone. “When EnerNOC informs me of a DR dispatch, I simply click on one button in our energy management system and it makes the necessary air conditioning and other adjustments—quickly and automatically,” says Mittlestead. “It’s easy. And it curtails energy immediately.”

An Educational Opportunity

The college’s many energy reduction efforts—including demand response—all pass along a strong conservation message to its more than 12,000 students. Students learn that energy reduction is important, and doesn’t even require much of a sacrifice, if any, of their overall comfort. These lessons continue to resonate throughout their adult lives, creating energy-conscious citizens.

Positive Publicity

The college’s energy reduction efforts have been highlighted in articles in the Fresno Bee and other publications.

A Professional Partner

During the implementation process, the college worked closely with the EnerNOC team. “We were very impressed with the professionalism of the entire EnerNOC staff,” says Mittlestead. “We’re very pleased with our partnership with EnerNOC and our participation in DR. It’s a great program, and EnerNOC is an excellent partner.”

The Future

College of the Sequoias is committed to exploring new opportunities for reducing and conserving energy—all with an overall goal of reducing energy use by ten percent. For example, it continues to link more and more of the campus to its central cooling plant and to use its energy management system to reduce energy throughout the campus. It is also exploring the installation of solar panels on the roof of a new nursing building. “Our energy-reduction efforts self-perpetuate over time,” notes Mittlestead. “The more we save now, the more we can do in the future.”