Power outages during interim affect Hanover
By Madeline Zeiss, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, June 22, 2012
The College experienced two significant power outages similar to those that occurred at the end of Spring term during the interim period on June 13 and June 15, according to Kenneth Packard, director of engineering and utilities.
A fault in the underground utilities feed owned by National Grid, the energy company that is responsible for the transmission of Hanover’s power, in front of the Circle K gas station on Main Street caused the outage on June 13, Packard said. The outage began at 1:40 p.m. and resulted from the malfunction of an underground cable that powers sections of the College as well as North Main Street, South Main Street, Maple Street and additional streets in that area, according to National Grid spokesperson David Graves.
“There is an underground feed to campus that runs up Main Street, and that shorted out and basically took out all the left side of campus and north side of campus and caused multiple short disruptions to the central campus delivery substation,” Packard said.
The outage affected approximately 690 customers. Power was restored to roughly 570 customers at 6:00 p.m., and to all remaining customers by 6:30 p.m., Graves said.
“In order to restore power, National Grid worked on the fault and reconfigured their distribution to feed to a different substation, as opposed to one by the dam, so that power distribution fed from a different direction along Park Street,” Packard said. The Wilder Dam is located approximately three miles south of the College on the Connecticut River.
An additional power outage caused by an open circuit breaker occurred on June 15 at 1:20 p.m. and affected 2,200 customers in Hanover and Lebanon, Graves said. Some of these customers were previously affected by the other outages. Circuit breakers are devices built to accommodate fluctuations in power and are designed to protect National Grid equipment and customer appliances and equipment, according to Graves. The cause of the open circuit breaker is unknown, he said. National Grid workers closed the circuit breaker and power was restored to all customers at 2:10 p.m.
Such extensive power outages occur “fairly rarely,” as usual outages typically last a few minutes, Packard said. For example, a short power outage occurred on June 11, when central campus lost power at approximately 7:00 a.m. for five minutes. Prior to the recent outages, power was last lost in August 2011, Packard said.
Alumni reunions were being held on campus when the outages occurred. The loss of power did not significantly affect reunions, however, according to Andrea Baer ’13, who worked on reunions during interim.
“One time, I was working inside the Blunt Alumni Center during an outage, but we had daylight so we just carried on with what we were doing — stuffing packets,” Baer said. “The rest of the time I was working outside so it didn’t affect the reunion.”
The Spring term power outages that occurred during final exams interrupted some students who were studying or taking exams, according to students interviewed by The Dartmouth.
Billy Wolff ’13, who was studying in his dorm when an outage occurred, said he considered lighting a candle before realizing candles are prohibited.
“I was very annoyed and frustrated,” Wolff said. “I made up for it by chatting with my neighbors who were also unnerved.”
Baer, who was taking a final exam when an outage occurred, said the loss of power was a “bit distracting” because her professor moved students to a new classroom.
“We were in the basement of Silsby with no windows when the lights went out, so the professor had to search the building for an empty classroom that was lit by sunlight,” Baer said. “He found an empty room on the third floor so we all took our tests upstairs to finish.”
Some students appeared annoyed when outages occurred but were able to continue studying for exams, according to Baer.
“Luckily, most of the outages were during the day so with sunlight and laptop computers, there wasn’t a need to move anywhere,” she said.