Electrical grid sustains second failure in less than a year


Lights out in the Peters Business Building left students in the dark Thursday night after a blown switch caused a power outage that affected multiple buildings on campus. School officials cancelled night classes Thursday and all affected buildings were closed. Photo Rachel Taylor

By Megan Rupe and Brianna Vaccari

Fresno State students and faculty members were in disarray late Thursday afternoon as multiple buildings lost power, forcing the cancellation of all evening classes and the closure of most buildings.

Fresno State facilities staff said that the outages stemmed from a failed circuit switch, which caused buildings to lose power. It impacted the feeder to several other buildings on the north and east sides of campus.

At least six buildings had complete power outages – including the Peters Business, Engineering East and both science buildings – by about 4:30 p.m., when the infrastructure failures began.

Three people were stuck in elevators in the Science buildings. One student was stuck in the elevator in Science 1, while two students were stuck in elevators in Science 2. The passengers were in contact with campus police, according to a university release.

Technicians from the elevator company made their way to campus about 7 p.m. and the students were let out.

Fourteen buildings were affected by power outages, said Rick Finden, director of plant operations.
“Most classes will be in session on Friday,” the release said.

Last night, university business department staff walked through a blacked-out Peters Business Building with flashlights asking students and faculty to evacuate the building.

Students began leaving the campus en masse around 5:40 p.m., when it was first announced that classes were canceled.

“I felt terrible, because my paper was just gone … I didn’t save it on a flash drive, so I have to start over,” said Gina Palomino, a senior criminology major working on a term paper in the business building’s computer lab when the power went out.

This was the second major power outage in less than a year at Fresno State. The main switch to campus electricity failed during winter intercession last year, causing disruption at a Fresno State basketball game at the Save Mart Center. During that blackout the power was out for three days.

The Save Mart Center, which hosted a women’s basketball game against San Diego Christian Thursday night, was unaffected by the power outages Thursday.

Fresno State is set to receive more than $30 million to move forward with the first phase of a major capital project that will update the university’s aged electrical infrastructure, university President Joseph Castro announced Oct. 3.

The university’s antiquated electrical distribution system is 15 years overdue for an upgrade, Robert Boyd, associate vice president for facilities management, told The Collegian in September.