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Stanford Energy Systems Innovations (SESI) is a example of how planning for the future can achieve a cost-effective, efficient, and resilient system that aligns with sustainability values and is responsive to the needs of campus users as they move in and out of their busy environments. 

One example for anticipating future needs is how the Central Energy Facility (CEF) currently operates three heat recovery chillers and has the space to install another in case it is needed later on. The university provides reliable back-up systems and is actively working on improving the reliability of transmission and increasing the resilience of the campus energy system.

Emergency Back-Up Generators

The Stanford campus has over 100 emergency back-up generators across campus for loads of sensitive buildings that are meeting both critical academic and residential needs, such as powering emergency lighting, elevators, and safety systems. The university has both a maintenance and testing plan and refueling program for these back-up generators. Having multiple sources helps increase the university energy system's efficiency and reliability during emergencies. 

Improving Reliability of Transmission Lines

Stanford is currently conducting a study of the transmission system in order to improve capacity building and reliability of transmission lines. Stanford experiences very few power outages, and this study will help to continue to ensure reliability and cost savings for the future. The goal is to quantify the reliability of power supply to the university's substation, which receives dual feeds from independent and physically separated lines.

Expansion of Chilled Water Capacity

To improve infrastructure resiliency and limit disruption to teaching and research during heat waves, the Central Energy Facility (CEF)'s chiller plant was expanded between the years 2020 and 2023 to increase cooling capacity from 14,500 ton-hours to 28,500 ton-hours, with an additional 3,000 ton-hours of standby chilling providing N+1 capacity. Should extreme weather conditions, like extreme heat or humidity, tax even these augmented systems, the university is prepared for different stages of chilled water curtailment. 

Curtailment preparation and implementation is a dynamic process that relies on effective load shedding (reduction) measures. If loads do not shed as expected because of temperatures surpassing forecasts or less load reduction in buildings, then additional curtailment may be necessary and the university begins moving into more advanced stages of the curtailment plan.

In the unlikely event of a chilled water curtailment, every effort will be made to communicate with chilled water customers as quickly as possible. Facilities teams will communicate information to the Stanford community using the AlertSU system as soon as curtailment information becomes available. Advance notice will be provided to building managers, facility coordinators, and critical chilled water users when they see an approaching heat wave. Students, faculty, and other community members can always use the capacity dashboard to stay up-to-date with the current status and adequately prepare.

View curtailment FAQs

Weather Forecast

Values are populated by NOAA based on an average of the three closest weather stations to the Stanford zip code

View weather at Stanford

Chilled Water Capacity

This dashboard depicts chilled water capacity versus forecast load and the status of needed curtailment

View current status

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