Brief main campus power outages are possible Tuesday, May 17, as University Facilities and Duke Energy test “islanding” the campus from the Duke grid. The islanding test is part of ongoing efforts to preserve sensible loads from outages and ensure the continuity in the electricity supply.
Bret McCarley, associate director for Utility Services, said they plan to test disconnecting the campus from the Duke grid and powering it from the Combined Heat and Power Plant and backup generators.
The test will determine if any issues need to be addressed before the University is required to make the switch during an actual power emergency.
“If there’s a regional outage and Duke transmission goes down for some reason, we can still be a little island that keeps going,” McCarley said.
The test is scheduled to begin around 7:30 a.m. and finish by 9:30 or 10 a.m. Utility Services and Duke will have technicians monitor the test to ensure everything goes smoothly. There is a slight chance an issue could cause a brief outage for all or part of the campus during the test period, but McCarley said they should be able to restore power in less than 15 minutes.
He also said the Combined Heat and Power plant and campus generators can produce about 17 megawatts of power, but the campus can draw from 15 to 21 megawatts on a normal day in May. It may be necessary to reduce the power used by the chillers that supply cool air to campus buildings during the test.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep power on campus,” he said, adding that it helps that it will be in May and not during the hotter summer months.
University Facilities is working with Housing and other stakeholders to reduce power usage during the test.
If you know of something that could be adversely affected by an outage, contact McCarley at email@example.com with the details so he can plan accordingly and limit the impact to campus activities.