Power outage hits campus

13 March 2002 | When the lights flickered back on in Etcheverry, Soda and North Gate halls shortly before midnight Thursday, the campus motto, fiat lux — Latin for “let there be light” — took on literal meaning.

Electrical engineers from Physical Plant had restored power to most of the campus within seven hours after an electrical switching station failed last week, but some buildings and residence halls were still in darkness by daybreak.

The failure, which occurred at 5:15 p.m., Thursday, March 7, cut lights and electrical power campuswide. By midnight, the power had been restored and most classes resumed as scheduled the following day.

However, more than two dozen buildings, including the Haas School of Business, Boalt Hall and five student residence halls, were still without electricity Friday morning.

The outage was traced to a major failure in one of five campus electrical switching stations, which serves the east and south sides of campus.

Electrical engineers believe the outage was caused by water intrusion into an underground switching station near the Haas School of Business, on the campus’s east side.

The station suffered a major failure that, in turn, caused a failure in the main power supply to the campus, they said. PG&E supplies electrical power to the campus, but the campus operates its own distribution system.

No injuries were reported due to the outage, but people were trapped in elevators in 15 campus buildings. All were rescued within three hours, according to campus police.

In all, about 3,500 students living in campus residence halls got through the night with back-up generators and flashlights. Two hundred students living in Bowles Hall, which had no access to emergency power, were taken to other facilities for the night.


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