|You are here: HOME > AROUND TOWN
Power surge puts campus in darkness
By Allyson BetotAround the Campus Editor
March 15, 2012
The campus power fail- ure that inconvenienced thousands of students, faculty, staff and administrators on March 1 – including stranding a person in an elevator for 40 minutes – was repaired and normal campus life resumed on March 2.
It was eventually determined that the cause of the power failure was due to a faulty arrester and transformer, according to W. Steve Martin, assistant vice chancellor for facilities management.
Stuck in an elevator
Dr. Simmons had recently undergone a back surgery.
Due to the recovery process, she had been forced to take the elevator instead of her usual trek up the stairs.
Campus Police, Facilities Operations personnel and others who work in Lumbee Hall assisted Dr. Simmons, including finding water and a way to get the elevator doors to open.
"An incident such as this demonstrates clearly that UNCP is a caring campus community that takes care of its own," Dr. Simmons said in an email thanking the university community.
With no electricity in the dining hall, there was no way to cook for those who eat on campus.
The dining hall provided a free lunch in the cafeteria and served hot dogs and hamburgers for dinner using food warmers ordinarily reserved for special events.
Salads and sandwiches were kept fresh on ice for vegetarians and other students.
Schedule changesSome professors cancelled their classes during the day, or released students early.
However, all classes after 4:20 p.m. were cancelled campus wide.
The power outage caused problems for classes that rely heavily on computer usage.
Sara Oswald, a professor in the English department, was giving a midterm for her computer-assisted editing and design class when the power went out. The class meets once a week, so the loss of the class period severely impacted the class's schedule.
The SGA Safety Forum scheduled to take place that night was postponed.
The forum will take place on a future date to be decided, according to SGA senator Christopher Hudson.
The Greek Life Step Show, that was to have taken place at GPAC, was postponed and rehearsals taking place in GPAC were cancelled.
After an hour, Martin announced that "power has been restored and all facilities are back online."
However, three hours later Dr. Robert L. Orr, associate vice chancellor for information resources and CIO, speaking on behalf of Provost Kenneth Kitts, told the faculty in an email that the problems continued and classes were cancelled for the afternoon and evening.
"The UNCP side of the sub-station was de-energized in order for Progress Energy to analyze their circuits," Martin explained by email to faculty and staff. "Progress Energy has energized their side of the substation but has been unable to find the fault."
"The UNCP side is now being brought back online one circuit at a time (we have four circuits) to possibly isolate any issues on our side," Martin reported in the email. "Each circuit will remain on for approximately 30 minutes and then an additional circuit will be energized."
Martin said that when a fault hits any of the four electrical circuits on campus, all four lose power.
When this occurs, staff brings up each circuit one at a time to locate the fault, which can be a timely process.
In the March 1 instance, the fault was in the fourth circuit, he said.
The faulty arrester and transformer were fixed by the next day.
Scott Bigelow, the public communication specialist for University Communications and Marketing said that it was unusual for the power to be out for as long as it was.
According to Martin, the reason for the power being out for such a lengthy period of time was the process they had to go through to check each circuit.
Bigelow said that the biggest challenge was notifying students for evening classes because it happened so late in the day.
"We activated parts of the emergency notification plan and used email, web and called the media," Bigelow said.