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Chipmunk Causes Campus Power Outage

Facilities Management needed to turn off the transformer and the main that feeds power to it (Malak Ghazal / The Index) Facilities Management needed to turn off the transformer and the main that feeds power to it (Malak Ghazal / The Index)

On October 23, many of the buildings on campus suffered from a loss of power.

Initially, Olds-Upton and Facilities Maintenance were the only buildings without power at around noon. However, later that day, the power was shut off in additional areas around campus.

According to Facilities Management, a chipmunk caused this power outage. This chipmunk ran into a power line, causing a dead short. In effect, a high voltage primary blew in a transformer room.

Facilities Management sought the cause first, discovering the chipmunk before taking any action to try and turn on the power again. Since it was just a chipmunk, it was, “good news for everyone, except of course the chipmunk,” said Mike Hodgkinson, Associate Director of Facilities Management.

After discovering the source of the problem, the next step was to fix it. In order to do this, Facilities Management needed to turn off the transformer and the main that feeds power to it. This is because, “there is simply no way to replace a single fuse in 3 phase system live,” Hodgkinson said. This is what led to the main power outage at around 5 pm.

Once the power was shut off, Facilities Management worked to solve the problem and restore power as soon as possible. Meanwhile, an email from Director of Security Eric Wimbley was sent out to students explaining the power outage and when they could expect it to come back on. Facilities Management was able to make a permanent repair and turn the power back on after about an hour.

There will be another power outage sometime in the next few weeks, just to do some testing to determine if the system is in good working order. However, Facilities Management will be in control of this power outage, and it will be scheduled at a time likely to affect as few people as possible early in the morning.

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Chipmunk Causes Campus Power Outage