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Decimated demand in college towns, and uncertainty moving forward

image credit: ID 80443334 © Katherine Lim |
Henry Craver's picture
Small Business Owner Self-employed

As a small business owner, I'm always trying to find ways to cut costs and boost the dependability of my services. To that end, I've become increasingly invested in learning about energy saving...

  • Member since 2018
  • 612 items added with 301,593 views
  • Apr 23, 2020

Ever since it became clear much of the U.S. was headed for a shutdown, there’s been a lot of talk in utility circles about the inevitable drop in electricity demand. The significant demand reductions experienced in California, New York, and northern Italy are illustrated pretty clearly in the graphs featured in this article over at Grist. Those, of course, are all big markets, and thus the changes are being driven by a multitude of factors spread across many industries, some which are more affected than others. Although I haven’t been able to find graphs or stats, I’m sure the drop off has been much more significant in one industry regions. Rural college towns, for example. 

Looking into it, I came across this article in the Cornell Daily Sun about the ivy’s drop in energy consumption. Here are some highlights:

“Sparse campus activity has reduced heating consumption by 17,000 kilo pounds of steam, a number equivalent to the resources required to annually heat about 2,000 residences.”

“With dark lecture halls and unplugged lab equipment, electricity consumption has dropped by 3,900,000 kilowatt hours — equivalent to slightly more than the energy a single Cornell solar farm generates in a year.”

Of course, Ithaca, New York is also home to Ithaca college, which I’m sure is consuming much less energy as well. 

With the future of college life looking more and more uncertain, it will be interesting to see what happens to energy consumption in towns like Ithaca in the 2020-21 school year. I’m sure we’ll see a shift towards normalcy, but I doubt we’ll get all the way there. Enrollment will be down, and more students may opt to stay home and just take online courses. What will these changes mean for the utilities that serve college towns? 

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