With new facilities and other fixed electric expenditures, just how much does DLSU spend on its electric bill?
De La Salle University’s average monthly electricity consumption from AY 2011-12 to AY2012-13 rose by 8.8 percent, according to data analyzed by the DLSU Campus Sustainability Office, with a 16 percent increase in the average monthly kilowatts (kW) demand resulting from the operations of new facilities for AY 2013-2014.
Over-all, the University’s energy data over the recent years reflects a gradually increasing trend. DLSU’s average power demand in the last 5 years is around 4.5 megawatts (MW). For AY 2013-2014, monthly registered kW demand ranges from 5,148 MW to as high as 5,582 MW, which translates to an almost Php 12 million monthly electric bill under the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).
Mr. Nonoi Maralit, Director of the Campus Sustainability Office, shares that the continuous increasing trend over the past five years may be attributed to a number of factors, which include the renovations of old buildings and the construction and operation of new facilities serving an increasing student population every school year. He emphasized that such energy data should not be taken as a reflection of the normal operations of the University due to the nature of the factors mentioned.
As of this month, Meralco alerted consumers within their franchise areas to prepare for an increase in the monthly charge for the period of November to December that will range from Php 2.00 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to more than P3.00 per kWh, resulting from the increase in generation charge. This increase is expected to have a significant effect on the power expenses of the University.
The Campus Sustainability Office assures that the University is implementing a number of measures to curtail the increasing power demand and consumption. Maralit says that a series of energy audits of buildings have been conducted since last year with the help of selected faculty and students from the College of Engineering and Meralco.
“Auditing is a way by which we can determine where we’re consuming the highest in terms of energy use. Through this, we are able to look into the current electrical system and patterns of usage which include the lights and equipment we use in offices and classrooms, as well as the aircon systems that significantly affect our power consumption,” he says. “If we don’t have baseline data, we will not have a picture of where we are, how efficient our system is and where to implement energy conservation measures,” he adds.
In the University’s effort to reduce the electricity consumption, the Campus Sustainability Office in coordination with the Facilities Management Office and its Mechanical and Electrical Works Office has already started installing light emitting diode (LED) lamps by replacing fluorescent lamps, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and incandescent bulbs starting November 30. It is expected that the LED lamps will save 50-56 percent in the electricity consumption of lights as compared to energy consumed by conventional fluorescent lamps.
The first phase of the LED project has already started with the St. John Hall and will also include Br. Connon Hall, St. Miguel Hall, and William Hall. The replacement process is part of Campus Sustainability Office’s Lasallian Earth Day project.
According to the Campus Sustainability Office, aside from the reduction in electricity consumption, the LED project will gradually phase-out toxic materials such as mercury which are present in fluorescent and CFLs lamps as well as increase the degree of illumination in rooms to meet lighting standards set by government.
Upgrading the system
The Campus Sustainability Office and the Facilities Management Office are already studying a number of interventions which look into improving the efficiency of the energy systems of the University. Currently, a study is being conducted to explore the benefits from the consolidation of 8 Meralco accounts from ‘secondary metering’ to a single, ‘primary metering’ account which is expected to yield monthly savings.
“In the case of DLSU, we currently have around 18 secondary-metering accounts all over the campus,” Maralit says. “If the University consolidates some of these into a single ‘primary-metering’ account, it can save up to Php 500,000 in its monthly electricity bill,” he adds.
Furthermore, Maralit shares that an implication of such a shift is that the University will be considered as a ‘contestable user’ under the Electricity Power Industry Reform Act’s ‘Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA)’ directive wherein consumers with a power demand of 1 MW or higher are given the option to choose from different power generation companies where it will buy its electricity. This will give the University an opportunity to reduce it’s carbon footprint especially if it opts to buy from power generation companies that rely on clean, renewable energy sources such as hydro power.
The audits of the Campus Sustainability Office have also revealed that 60-70 percent of the air-conditioning units in the University are already up for replacement. “We have a lot of old air-conditioning systems which are inefficient because they’ve already exceeded the number of productive years based on the manufacturer’s recommended use. If we are able to replace the old ones, we can benefit from the increased efficiency offered by new models in the market which will result in more cost savings,” says Maralit.
The University is also considering the restructuring of its kWh contracted demand—the amount of power that Meralco allocates to the University every month—of some accounts since the University has actually been experiencing a reduction in kW demand . Maralit explains that if a consumer consumes below the Guaranteed Minimum Billing Demand (70 percent of the total kW contracted demand), it is somewhat penalized since the customer will need to pay for the unused power.“Restructuring the kW contracted demand will help us avoid the penalties. There are 3 accounts that are being renegotiated with Meralco,” shares Maralit.
Educating the consumers
Maralit reiterates that an effective energy conservation program requires a combination of technical, behavioral and administrative interventions. He insists that it is important to educate the school community especially the students about the issue, pointing out that students are the main consumers in the University.
“They [students] have a big role in energy conservation, we need to educate them,” he says. “Success of education is measured if people apply and practice everyday what they’ve learned in school,” he adds.
Moreover, the Campus Sustainability Office asserts that students should give more consideration to the bigger ‘community’ picture, instead of simply ‘griping’ about fees they paid the University.
“Very often I hear this [students comparing their fees paid and services], I tell you if you are to compute and measure the actual cost of energy consumption of the community, the services provided by the school is more than what was paid for,” Maralit says. “Hindi naman tayo naniningil, but we have to stop thinking linear and start thinking of the welfare of the whole school community,” he adds.
Currently, the University has assigned utility and security personnel, discipline officers, Office of the University Registrar checkers and technical staff of the Facilities Management Office with the task of switching off all aircons and lights in classrooms that are unused in between classes to further reduce energy consumption. Offices and University units have a daily standing policy of switching off airc-onditioners and lights from 12 noon until 1:30 pm as part of the DLSP Lasallian Earth Day commitment.