Summer Electricity Demand Response FAQs

What is a peak load?

Electricity use varies over the course of the day as heating and cooling use rises and falls, and use of appliances and electronics increases at certain times of day. Peak days occurs when electricity use rises so high that electric companies are forced to pull plants online that would not normally be in use in order to meet the demand. Energy comes from a variety of sources, including coal, oil, hydropower, renewable energy, natural gas, and nuclear energy, and periods of extremely high demand require the use of more expensive and less desirable forms of energy.




Why is it important to avoid peak loads?

By having customers reduce load, Eversource avoids needing to call on older and higher-polluting power plants which typically generate power only during peak grid demand. In turn, this reduces carbon emissions and also avoids the need for expanding electricity infrastructure, such as building out transmission lines. Peak days are both more expensive and detrimental to the environment.




What is the benefit to the college?

We recognize this can be disruptive and inconvenient, but our participation is important given the financial benefits of “Demand Response” programs. Amherst College is enrolled in several programs to monetize our actions, with a benefit up to $105,000 annually.


What can I do to help reduce electricity demand on peak days? 

Turning off all non-essential electrical items including lights, printers, copiers and related office equipment that are not actively used or critical to department operations for the event helps reduce electricity demand. Please make sure these items are shut off before you leave for the day, and facilities staff will help departments with specific efforts to shut off non-essential lighting equipment across campus.


If you have any questions or concerns about energy reduction measures in your office, please call the Service Desk at x2254.

If you are interested in learning more about other sustainability initiatives at Amherst, including the Green Office Program, please reach out to The Green Office Program is a program run by the Office of Environmental Sustainability aimed at educating offices and academic departments on campus about implementing sustainable practices at the school.

* Graphs 1 and 2 provided by