California Lutheran University has had four power outages during the fall semester that have been imposed by Southern California Edison.
Out of those outages, one was due to a contract between Edison and CLU in an attempt to save money on electricity. The other three outages were imposed so Edison could work on equipment, according to Director of Facilities Management Mark Jacobsen.
“The university spends over a million dollars a year in electricity,” said Jacobsen.
There are a number of reasons the campus will shut down or reduce power.
“On occasion, Edison makes us shut down power because we’re part of a program that we receive a reduced rate on our electric bill if we give Edison the right to tell us when they need us to shut power off, so that they can supply other power users with power during periods of power emergencies,” said Jacobsen.
This agreement, called the Base Interruptible Program, saves the university a few thousand dollars every year on the electric bill. CLU has been part of this program for the last eight years.
These contractual power outages occur more often when the weather gets up into hotter temperatures, like it was this past August. They happen “when the requirements succeed the supply of power,” according to Jacobsen.
“Edison will go back to all of those companies that they’re contracted with that said, ‘yeah we’ll shed power, we’ll shut down so that there are other places that don’t have that opportunity will have enough power to continue to operate,’” said Jacobsen.
Because of the contractual agreement, CLU has to reduce power a certain number of times a year, as chosen by Edison. During those events, CLU is given 30 minutes to reduce power.
“If we don’t reduce in that 30 minutes time, we actually get a really big fine,” said Jacobsen.
The fine is approximately $6,000. If the campus fails to comply more than twice, it could be kicked out of the program.
Edison can also have the campus shut down power in order to replace, upgrade and work on equipment.
Valerie Crooks, senior project manager at Facilities, said that the reason Edison has these planned power outages is so they can fix their equipment.
They are upgrading their infrastructure and replacing transformers and cables, said Crooks.
This helps to eliminate planned shut downs in the future.
In most cases Edison will try to work with the university to schedule a time or to give advance notice so that Facilities can notify faculty and students.
Annika Bastanchury, a freshman living in Pederson Hall, said that she did get an email about an upcoming power outage, but she was still not ready for it.
“I walked into the room and all the lights were out,” said Bastanchury.
“It was out for more than an hour, I think.”
Jacobsen said that sometimes Facilities will have no clue when Edison will turn the power off due to an emergency, such as equipment failure.
“Well, one time I was just watching TV and then the power went out and we were just like ‘Oh this sucks, we’re in the middle of watching a show’,” said Alex Vicente, a freshmen living in Pederson Hall.
“We come outside and it’s funny, there’s a bunch of other people coming outside complaining about the same thing.”
Vicente was caught off guard and was unaware that there was going to be a power outage.
This semester there have been two emergency shut downs, one outage that was a part of the contractual agreement and one planned by Edison to work on equipment.
There will not be any more contractual outages throughout this semester as the university is only on contract to shut down power in high-energy usage months, June through October.
However, Jacobsen said there will be two more planned outages so that Edison can change equipment.
Dean of Students William Rosser said in an email statement, “Any outages are too many when one is trying to keep the university up and running. Hopefully, we have seen the last of it.”
Published Nov. 28, 2012