Many in the NEOMED community have been wondering, Why have there been so many power outages lately? And when several power outages occurred throughout Tuesday night, The Pulse, a bit groggy from receiving the notices through the night, thought it best to ask NEOMED’s very own Jim Rankin, director of campus operations, and fellow frustrated member of the NEOMED community.
TP: You sound tired? I would think you would be napping by now?
JR: No, I’m fine. You just have to keep going. If I stopped, I’d be out of it.
TP: So what happened last night?
JR: Last night an electrical sectionalizing switch on the campus was damaged. This switch was part of the electrical loop needed to be isolated in order to restore power back to the RGE building and Buildings D and E.
Repairing this switch last night caused the delay in getting these buildings back on line. We are not sure what caused the damage to the switch but it may have been fatigued by the recent electrical stoppages and restarts.
TP: There seems to have been many outages lately, but the weather has been great. So, what’s causing them?
JR: FirstEnergy is currently in the process of constructing an additional transformer to their electrical substation on Campbellsport Road. This has caused all of the electrical service in the Rootstown region, including the NEOMED campus, to be placed on a single transformer. While we cannot be 100 percent certain, we believe that this is causing the multiple power outages to the NEOMED campus and the entire region.
We have asked FirstEnergy to investigate this matter and to communicate when this transfer back to multiple transformers will occur.
TP: What about the switch that was damaged by the lighting strike and ultimately repaired in June of this year—could that be causing the outages?
JR: You mean the recloser switch?
JR: The power outages we’ve been experiencing are affecting the extended service area and are not limited to just the NEOMED campus, so the cause is not the new recloser switch.
We have reviewed the electrical system data, and it appears the recloser switch is functioning properly and doing what it is designed to do. We will verify the control settings and retest the functionality to be sure.
This switch is designed to act like as a surge protector and insulate and protect the University’s internal electrical and expensive research equipment from damaging surges or overloads in power—like a circuit breaker in your home.
TP: Should we be thinking about changing our electrical providers?
JR: Regardless of the provider, the transmission lines that deliver electrical power to the campus would not change--they would continue to be the existing FirstEnergy lines.
We continue to work with FirstEnergy on solving this issue and eliminating the outages to the NEOMED campus.
TP: So what can we all do in the meantime?
JR: We understand your frustration, but know that when it happens, we’re on it. Please do not call me directly because it prevents me from working on the problems. We will notify everyone via the RAVEAlert notification system.
TP: We like the instant notification but do we need to get them on every device?
JR: We want to make sure that no matter where you are, you’re alerted. But your account allows you to personally select how you want to be informed – text, phone or email.
TP: I don’t think everyone knows that.
JR: (laughs) That’s why we have The Pulse. Now, they know.