A THG Case Study: UC Merced Makes the Green Honor Roll

University of California, Merced Leading Its Peers in Sustainability

UC Merced at Night

Photo credit: By Qymekkam – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25237041

The Challenge

Getting to Net Zero

The University of California, Merced seeks to minimize non-renewable consumption while optimizing human comfort. Their Sustainability goals position them as an energy conservation leader with a zero net energy, zero waste, zero net emissions campus while also doubling their campus footprint by 2020. UC Merced wanted to achieve their Sustainability goals while also preparing their Central Plant staff to serve a rapidly expanding campus.

Meanwhile Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has been implementing various programs to address challenging grid conditions caused by an excess supply of renewables, negative wholesale energy prices, peak pricing, and peak demand.

The Solution

Leveraging Automation and Load Shifting

THG recommended participation in PG&E’s Excess Supply Pilot (XSP) program through Automated Demand Response (ADR). The XSP program incentivizes load shifts/increases during times of anticipated excess supply while the ADR technical incentive would cover 75% of the program cost. THG installed telemetry and automation to allow the campus to respond to deteriorating grid conditions caused by oversupply issues on the distribution network.

THG’s ADR Controllers (ADRCs) received signals for Excess Supply Pilot events, then orchestrated pre-approved strategies to adjust flexible loads in response to the needs of the grid. During UC Merced’s typical operations, they would run chillers and charge their thermal storage tanks overnight to avoid demand charges, then use the storage to provide chilled water for campus cooling during the afternoon without running chillers. However, in response to the XSP events, THG automatically initiated a modified charging schedule of their thermal assets across the campus–reducing the nightly charge and completing the charge for the tanks during the event window, often in the early morning hours. By taking advantage of the XSP program, UC Merced receives revenues for using electricity at the right time.

The Results

Earning Top Dollar and Top Marks

These strategies yielded financial revenues totaling over $80,000 in 2018 and a total of $154,952 between June 2017 and July 2019 all paid directly to the university. Their university peers have taken notice of their sustainability efforts ranking them #20 in Princeton Review’s Top 50 Green Colleges 2019 and granting them a spot on Princeton Review’s Green College Honor Roll.

THG has demonstrated exemplary customer service, market expertise, and engineering knowledge from day one of our engagement. Our campus is very complex. As THG introduced us to new and innovative load response programs, they remained mindful of our operational constraints and introduced strategies that delivered valuable savings and revenue to UC Merced.

– Zuhair Mased, Director of Energy, Engineering, & Sustainability

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