Last month’s power outage across campus has now been stabilized, although extensive damage to the components that feed a transformer means Western will not be operating at full electrical capacity for a number of weeks.
“It’s tough to pin-point a timeframe, because there are so many factors in play,” said Roy Langille, Facilities Management associate vice-president. “However, we do know that throughout the duration of the repairs there will be limitations on our consumption.”
According to Western officials, the root of the problem was traced to a failure with an on-campus transformer housed in one of the university’s electrical substations, which occurred at about 12:05 a.m. Wednesday, May 30.
That 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,” Langille said.
As 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,” he continued. “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.”
Facilities Management is asking all unnecessary lighting be turned off in offices, corridors, labs and classroom spaces. 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,” Langille said.