New York University sent out the following message to all of its faculty and staff this morning:
Due to today’s forecast of very hot weather, New York City and Con Edison have issued another request to users throughout the city to reduce electrical consumption. These efforts help reduce the chance of brown-outs, black-outs, and damage from over-heating to the city’s electrical system.
In response, beginning around midday today the University will take steps to reduce non-critical electrical loads, including shutting off some non-essential lighting, turning off some redundant elevator banks, and re-setting some thermostats to slightly higher temperatures to reduce air conditioning related power consumption.
Individual members of the NYU community can also make important contributions to this effort by shutting off lights, appliances, and personal computers when not in use.
As you may know, many of our buildings around Washington Square get their power from NYU’s co-generation plant. Nonetheless, maximum conservation is still important: our system is connected to Con Ed’s grid, and by conserving power, we are able to contribute more to the grid, or – if demand gets very high — draw less power from the grid during peak periods of electrical demand.
This is not the first time NYU has sent out similar messages. It seems like such a strange thing. Why would a company caution people to use less of its product? My phone company doesn’t ever send me a message telling me that a lot of people will be making calls today so perhaps I should only call or text when absolutely necessary. Imagine your television provider telling you on Superbowl Sunday that, well, a whole lot of people will be watching today, which might lead to some overloads, so please don’t turn your TV on unless you absolutely must. How absurd. Can you imagine the outrage?
And yet, every single summer, we’re all shocked, shocked to find out that it gets hot, and the electricity companies plead with us not to use too much. The mayor issues similar pleas. Major organizations, like NYU, issue similar pleas. But why shouldn’t I be able to run my air conditioning 24/7 and keep my house like an ice box if I want to, as long as I pay for it?
Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?