Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 11:50 AM on Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Drill reduces power load

Officials from Southcentral regional governments and utilities estimate an across-the-board energy load reduction of between 1-2 percent from expected levels Oct. 19 between 6-8 p.m., the period of the third Energy Watch conservation drill.

Conservation was measured by local natural gas and electric utilities in Southcentral Alaska. Natural gas savings were calculated and measured by analyzing consumption trend lines from before, after and during the conservation test period. On the electric side, conservation was measured by analyzing actual megawatts used during the test and compared those figures against same-time, prior and post day usage.

As in previous years, test results were impacted by variables such as temperature, daylight, potentially unrelated load reductions from large energy users, etc. This year, nighttime temperatures dropped five degrees from Tuesday (the day before the test) to Wednesday's test period. Even with these challenges, officials involved in the test expressed confidence that this year's results largely mirror previous years.

In addition to the measurements conducted by the utilities, a Hays Research Group poll was conducted over the weekend. Out of 402 Southcentral (Anchorage, Kenai, Mat-Su) residents, 63 percent were aware of a possible natural gas delivery problem, and more than 47 percent were aware of the Oct. 19 conservation test. About 24 percent of respondents claimed to have participated in the test.

The drill was designed to gauge how much energy could be saved during a gas delivery shortfall. Should such a problem arise, residents of Southcentral would first be asked to take actions in the yellow or "Caution" section of the Energy Watch chart: turning down the thermostat to 65 degrees in living areas; postponing laundry and dishes; lowering the water heater to "warm"; minimizing use of gas ranges; and turning off unnecessary lights and electronics.

Participated in the drill were: the Kenai Peninsula Borough; Matanuska-Susitna Borough; ENSTAR, Chugach Electric Association, Municipal Light & Power, Matanuska Electric Association, Homer Electric Association and the Municipality of Anchorage.