Langille: Appeal for conservation after outage

I want to thank everyone involved in restoring power to Western after the equipment failure and subsequent power outage last week. It was no small undertaking and there is still some work to be done. Also, I would like to thank the campus community for their patience during the outage and provide an update on what to expect moving forward. As a follow-up to last week’s article (Power restored across campus, May 31), I now have new information to pass along.

Although power across campus has generally stabilized, extensive damage to the components in one of the transformers means Western will not be operating at full electrical capacity for roughly two weeks.

It’s tough to pin-point a timeframe, because there are a number of factors at work. However, we do know throughout the duration of the repairs there will be limitations on our available electricity consumption.

On Wednesday morning, Facilities Management electricians were alerted to an outage originating from the South Substation, located behind Alumni Hall. A transformer suffered a significant equipment failure cutting power from London Hydro’s feed to the buildings that draw from that substation. Although not entirely clear what caused it, it is known a fuse failed, leading to transformer damage. To restore power to customers, Facilities Management enacted an emergency procedure, diverting power from the East Substation to the South Substation.

The temporary measure to reroute power from the East Substation would go largely unnoticed if it wasn’t for the fact the chillers at the North and South power plants draw from those supplies as well. If outdoor air temperatures begin to rise over the next few weeks as predicted, the demand for air conditioning may begin to exceed the current available capacity.

As the repairs to the South Substation continue, Facilities Management’s technicians are closely monitoring and identifying campus’s electricity priorities in preparation for the potential increased demand. We acknowledge certain areas of research and study require climate standards and will work with those groups to maintain that service level.

At the same time, we are reaching out to our customers for support. We hope the community will play a part in limiting electrical consumption across the campus. If all unnecessary lighting could be turned off in offices, corridors, labs and classroom spaces this would significantly help. Also, if students, staff and faculty could make sure to turn off their computers when not in use, this would also reduce electricity demand.

By changing these energy habits, we hope to allow building occupants to remain comfortable during the forthcoming repairs.

Roy Langille
Associate vice-president, Facilities Management