Buildings Across Campus Experience Power Outages

Extreme winds felled heavy trees on Thursday, April 21, eliminating campus power supply for a few minutes and stifling power to the Andover Inn from 2:00 pm to 5:45 pm. The power outage affected all buildings on campus, but only 85 buildings connected to the Phillips Academy power plant received full back up power from the school’s emergency diesel generator. “[OPP] didn’t have any warning, so we were just as surprised [about the power outage] as the rest of the PA community,” said Muench. The remaining 65 buildings are connected directly to National Grid for electricity and only received partial back-up power while National Grid diagnosed and repaired the problem. The power split explains why some buildings on campus may had electricity, while others close by did not. At the beginning of the power outage, there were three to four spurts of electricity that caused the light to turn on and off repeatedly in all of the buildings on campus. “It was a very unusual event and that series of multiple ‘on-offs’ gave us the most problems [in all dorms and academics buildings],” said Muench. Normally, the backup generator at the power plant turns on automatically within a few minutes of the power loss to provide buildings around campus with power. Muench said that the power bursts prevented the controls at Phillips Academy physical plant from switching to the backup generator. The Andover Inn is not connected to the Phillips Academy power plant, and lost electrical power until National Grid fixed the entire power system. “If the power outage took place during restaurant hours or in the evening, it would have been a much bigger problem,” said Ozlem Uluoglu, Guest Services Manager at the Andover Inn. “We were closing for lunch when the power went out, so thankfully it did not interfere with the restaurant services.” The power outage did not affect dinner service at Samuel’s, the restaurant at the Andover Inn, that evening. Uluoglu said that there has been some discussion about getting a generator for the Andover Inn. The Andover Inn has lost power once before since it reopened during Fall term. “I think it would be smart to get a generator at the inn. But, if we do not get a generator, [power outages] are going to be something that we are going to have to deal with,” said Uluoglu. The power outage did not interfere with the heating systems in the Andover Inn. Because OPP had to manually switch the controls for the buildings that lost power, the power was out in buildings for longer than usual. Once the normal power was restored Thursday evening, OPP employees had to reset many building controls around campus. Paresky Commons, one of the buildings on the backup grid, was not affected by the power outage. “[In general,] the outages do not have a big effect on us, and the power is generally restored in a matter of minutes,” said Michael Giampa, Food Service Director. The power outage did not affect classes. “I only think the power outage would have been a problem if the class was held in a computer lab. My math class barely noticed the lights go out,” said Mimi Leggett ’13. “Although the OPP teams had a long day resetting many building controls around campus, the good news is that everything survived the outage intact,” said Muench. Muench said that power outages are not frequent at this time of year, and there is no way to prevent outages in the future.