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A Successful Electric Test

Further electric system testing will take place on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 14-15.

Two dozen people encircled the conference table in Facilities Management Monday, Aug. 11, each one with a connection to the new cogeneration power system located nearby.

It was the afternoon before the $11.5 million system would be tested and three years after the project began by securing approval from the Board of Trustees.

"We are gathered here today," said John Robinson, Smith's manager of capital projects, addressing an audience of electricians, engineers and Smith staff, before trailing off.  "Do you guys have everything you need?"

The following morning, before most campus-goers were up and about, the college would disconnect from the regional electric grid and find out whether the new system worked.

Even those unrelated to the project -- Northampton police and fire employees -- would be on site, staging a drill around the brief electrical outages that were expected when Smith went "offline."

The preparation apparently paid off.

"Testing of the new electrical switch gear went very well," said Gary Hartwell, Smith's project manager. "The campus experienced several momentary --2 to 3 second -- power outages Several buildings, including the science center, were out for up to 25 minutes while adjustments were made."

The campus servers were operational again by 8 a.m., allowing staffers to begin work as soon as they turned on their computers.

Wednesday, August 13, testing resumed between 5 and 7 a.m. with planned momentary power outages across campus. Further testing will take place on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 14-15, between 5 and 7 a.m., with planned power outages anticipated.

Potential for unplanned outages will remain until testing is completed on or before September 9, according to Hartwell.


8/12/08   Kristen Cole
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