Fresno State President Joseph Castro announced to the campus community in an email Thursday that Fresno State will receive more than $30 million to move forward with a major capital project that will update the university’s aged electrical infrastructure.
“I am very pleased to bring you the good news that the Chancellor’s Office has approved priority funding to Fresno State for electrical infrastructure repair,” Castro said in the email. “We will receive $1.3 million for construction drawings, followed by $30 million required for Phase I replacement of our aged underground wiring infrastructure, substations and other needs associated with the repairs.”
In the email, Castro called the update a “mission-critical project,” and cited it as his “top non-academic priority in 2014.” Castro said he is happy the university can now move forward with repairs.
Clint Moffitt, associate vice president for financial services, said discussions regarding funding for the project began about 18 to 24 months ago. Those conversations, he said, became more focused after the university experienced a campuswide outage last December during winter intercession.
Moffitt said the outage, although troublesome and unwanted, ultimately helped the project become a reality by making the situation “more real” for everyone involved. Without it, he said, Fresno State would likely still be waiting for funding.
“We would still be in line with all of our other 23 institutions in the system,” he said.
“They have their own share of deferred maintenance.”
Moffitt said the funds were difficult to obtain due to the various monetary and structural demands within the California State University system.
“We all have aging infrastructures, so that’s why it’s so hard [to get funding],” he said.
Elvyra San Juan, assistant vice chancellor for capital planning, design and construction, said funding for the $1.3 million drawings will come from the CSU’s operating budget, which includes a state appropriation of general fund dollars and student tuition fees.
San Juan said the Chancellor’s Office, however, is still exploring alternative methods in order to fulfill the $30 million needed for construction.
“It’s not exactly clear where the capital funding will come from since there are no general obligation bond funds for the CSU,” she said. “The CSU’s budget has been reduced. I think we’re still down over $500 million from where we were a few years ago, and there is certainly a lot of pressure to address enrollment increases, compensation, health care costs and deferred maintenance. So there are a lot of competing needs right now.”
Robert Boyd, associated vice president for Facilities Management, said he was elated when he discovered the project will receive funding.
“It’s been many, many years in the making trying to get this project done,” Boyd said. “We’ve had the project on the capital outlay list for at least a dozen years that I know of, and the need has been there way before that.
“The last 20 plus years this has needed to occur. It’s a great day for Fresno State, and it’s really a great day for our future to be able to deliver education to the students in a way that we can have an adequate and safe power source.”
Boyd said the project has been in the preliminary design phase since summer.
Now that the university has received a confirmation of funding, the construction drawings, he said, should be finished sometime in February.
Boyd said Facilities Management is planning to begin construction in June or July. After that, he said, the project will take about 18 months to complete.