While most of the campus community was enjoying the winter break, several staff members worked on a significant maintenance project involving high-voltage electrical equipment. The maintenance, which was vital to improving the reliability of the university¿s electrical system, required the majority of the campus to be powered down for four days.
The maintenance work on the high-voltage distribution gear in the electrical substation was successful, says Mark Miller, director of facilities.
¿Everything went very smoothly,¿ Miller says. ¿Facilities¿ electrical, plumbing and HVAC staff, I&IT, public safety ¿ everybody had a hand in what we did. It was really a team effort. I¿d like to give credit to my staff and the campus for coming up with a very comprehensive plan.¿
Although the maintenance was not urgent, Miller says winter break was the most practical time to do the work because it had the least impact on campus.
Power was shut down the morning of Dec. 27. Contract electrical workers from Hampton Tedder ran system tests, checked wiring, made repairs and replaced parts, as well as cleaned carbon deposit buildup in the equipment. Facilities staff monitored the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and the plumbing control systems and ensured that they were operating normally when power was restored Dec. 30.
The undertaking required months of planning. During the shutdown, some buildings received generator power to maintain research, animals and perishable inventory. Foundation Dining used backup refrigeration trucks for food deliveries during the break. I&IT made sure that phones, Internet, email and Blackboard were available. University police officers, community service officers and contract security staff patrolled the campus throughout the process.
No electricity meant no street lights, traffic lights, fire alarms or buildings lights. The university borrowed a few battery-powered flood lights from Cal State L.A. to illuminate the main intersections. Faculty and staff were encouraged to stay off campus, and university identification was required at all times.
¿The task was to minimize traffic across campus, unless people absolutely had to be there,¿ says Lt. Bruce Wilson, adding that officers were concerned about safety, injury and crime. ¿The highlight was that we had zero crime that occurred on campus while it was without power.¿
Wilson credits the project¿s success to the open communication across departments. Every morning, a conference call was held with key administrators, supervisors, managers and public safety to share information and report on the progress.
¿Mark and his team were outstanding,¿ Wilson says. ¿They were on top of this right away and all through the event.¿