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LRC News

Wednesday, February 7, 2007
LRC and OSRAM SYLVANIA Demonstrate New Load-shedding Technology

Newest demand response technology will help consumers manage their peak demand, lower their bills.
By Keith Toomey

The "load-shedding ballast” reduces power demand by dimming the lighting when a building’s peak electric demand is high or when the available supply is tight.

Representatives from the Lighting Research Center and OSRAM SYLVANIA have demonstrated a new lighting control system that allows electricity customers to reduce their monthly utility bills by controlling their own peak electricity demand.

Scientists at the LRC developed a prototype for a device known as a “load-shedding ballast,” which reduces power demand by dimming the lighting in a building when the building’s peak electric demand is high or when the available supply is tight. With support and assistance from the LRC, OSRAM SYLVANIA modified the LRC design and is now manufacturing its version of the ballast, which is expected to be on the market in 2007.

Electric utilities often face periods of peak demand that exceed available supplies, especially during the summer. This can result in blackouts that can affect entire regions of the United States. In a demonstration project funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the LRC installed 150 OSRAM SYLVANIA load-shedding ballasts at Consolidated Edison’s division headquarters in Rye, N.Y. Responding to a signal sent by the utility or the customer’s energy management system, the ballasts reduce power to the lighting by one-third.

 “We chose this level,” explained Peter Morante, the director of energy programs at the LRC, “because it does not affect lamp life, and it is acceptable to most building occupants.” Morante explained that the LRC conducted lamp life tests as well as human factors studies to find the optimum level of dimming. “We found that we could dim the lighting by as much as 40 percent for brief periods without upsetting 70 percent of the building’s occupants or hindering their productivity.” LRC studies also showed that 90 percent of the occupants accepted the reduction in light levels when they were told that it was being done to reduce peak demand.

Peter R. Smith, NYSERDA president and CEO, noted that: “NYSERDA encourages this type of engineering ingenuity, and funded this demonstration with the intention of bringing this technology to market sooner. It will fit well into some of the State load-shedding programs that pay utility customers to reduce their load in peak demand situations.”

“This new system offers an alternative to costly and highly polluting peak power generation, as it can immediately and predictably reduce power consumption in response to peak demand alerts,” said Mike Williams, product marketing manager at OSRAM SYLVANIA. “It is a great breakthrough for businesses seeking to manage peak demand charges or reduce consumption during peak electric rate periods.” Williams said the new SYLVANIA load-shedding, high-efficiency, universal-voltage, electronic ballast for 32W T8 lamps will be available in 2007.

“The design of the load-shedding system is simple,” said Morante. “It is based on common instant-start ballast technology currently used in nearly 80 percent of commercial lighting installations. It uses a signal injector on the building’s lighting circuits to control the ballasts, so no extra wiring is needed.” Morante estimates that the load-shedding equipment would pay for itself in as little as six months for new construction projects within New York City. Elsewhere, payback would be in about three years.

"This method of reducing lighting load during peak demand conditions shows how existing or new construction projects can dramatically reduce energy without compromising lighting," said William McGrath, vice-president, Con Edison's Bronx-Westchester electric operations.

Approximately two dozen representatives from energy service companies (ESCOs) attended the demonstration. Many said they were impressed with the simplistic yet effective method by which the load-shedding ballast system operates, and most wanted to know the commercialization date of the ballast.

For more information, contact Peter Morante at 518-687-7100 (moranp@rpi.edu) or Keith Toomey at 518-687-7174 (toomek@rpi.edu).

About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, N.Y., and is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting. The LRC offers the world's premier graduate education in lighting, including one- and two-year master's programs and a Ph.D. program. Since 1988 the LRC has built an international reputation as a reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. The LRC also provides training programs for government agencies, utilities, contractors, lighting designers, and other lighting professionals. Visit www.lrc.rpi.edu.

Contact:lrcnewsletter@rpi.eduPhotos & Graphics:Dennis Guyon
Editor:Keith ToomeyWeb Production:Joann Coffey
Contributing Writers:Jennifer Taylor, Keith Toomey
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