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University plans to save on electric bill

A new update to John Brown University’s electrical system has the potential to significantly cut their electrical bill.

“This is a very small piece of the budget, but every small piece added together makes a big difference,” said Steve Brankle, the director of Facilities Services.

Because of these changes, the electrical bill is the lowest it has been in eight years. Meanwhile the University has added building footage that equals a quarter million square mile. The updates to the Siemens System allow maintenance to monitor the energy being used in each building in real time. Because of this, they have been able to automatically turn off heating and cooling systems in unused buildings. Facilities also know exactly what the temperature is in each building so they can make small adjustments as well.

“We don’t do lighting yet, we can add that later though with this system,” said Brankle.

Facilities services’ main goal with this system is to not only cut the amount of electricity used but to cut the University’s demand.

Brankle explained that there are two parts to the electricity bill the University pays. The first part is the actual amount of electricity used. The second part is something called demand.

When measuring demand, the electrical company looks at the highest amount of electricity used in the last ten months. They then bills the University for the ability to give that much power.

Brankle said about a third of the University’s electrical bill goes to covering demand.

The changes in the Siemens System allow them to look at how close the University is to reaching the level of electrical use that will affect their demand.

“When it gets to that 85 percent, our phones start going off and we start turning stuff off,” said Brankle.

Brankle, whose son attends the University, said he and the rest of the facilities service department is conscious of the fact that their budget comes from student tuition, which is why cutting these cost as the campus grows is so important to him.

“You guys are like my kids,” said Brankle. “How do I want my kids to spent their money? On the electrical bill or on things to better their education?”