US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham met with federal officials in San Francisco last week to determine how federal agencies based in California, which use approximately 1.5 percent of the state's total energy load, can cut energy demand to help relieve the California energy crisis.

The meeting followed President George W. Bush's announcement requiring federal agencies to take immediate steps to conserve energy and reduce peak load at their facilities. To achieve conservation, the Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a detailed action plan. During Stage 2 or Stage 3 emergencies in California, facilities are to rapidly reduce electricity loads through increasing indoor air temperature to 78 degrees or shutting off non-essential equipment and lighting.

Every federal facility in California is asked to participate in the May 24th Emergency Load Reduction Test sponsored by the California Energy Commission. This exercise will require federal, state, and local governments and private sector businesses to reduce peak loads and conserve energy as if a Stage 3 emergency had been declared. The California Independent System Operator will monitor the load reductions.

The Energy Department's action plan includes directives for federal managers to pre-cool buildings during off-peak times. Employees are asked to be diligent in reducing their use of lighting and office equipment.