Written by Lori Robinson
Illustration by Madison Otten
A power outage interrupted school business for the eastern half of FRCC Westminster Monday morning.
Student Avery Nelson was all ready for her 8 a.m. class when she received the emergency notification text.
“I actually was supposed to have an exam,” Nelson said Wednesday, “so that got rescheduled for today. It’s a little frustrating. I studied and they postponed it.”
Facilities Director Patrick O’Neill and his crew have a plan in place for outages such as the one that occurred on Monday. System trouble alarms went off at 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m.
“That’s our first notification that there’s a problem at the building,” O’Neill said. “System trouble is not necessarily an urgent call.”
Nonetheless the director arrived at the scene as soon as possible and found the electricity was out for campus from the bookstore east. The problem, he and a Sturgeon Electric crew found, was on a high voltage line carrying 13,200 volts requiring a specialized lineman to fix.
“What it’s like, comparison wise, is you have a residential circuit breaker that’s tripped,” O’Neill said, “but this circuit breaker is like a thousand times bigger than what you’d see in a residence.”
The lineman reset the circuit breaker at 112th Street that serves Westminster Campus and restored power.
“Then we just go system by system to make sure everything is up and operational,” the facilities director said.
Information technology staff worked into the afternoon to restore power to affected computers, he said. “There’s a huge IT component to it.”
“Thankfully they were able to restore power shortly after 8 a.m.,” Campus Vice President Cathy Pellish stated in a school-wide memo.
The memo also stated the outage provided an opportunity to improve emergency communications.
“Delaying the start of classes to 10 a.m. did not mean we delayed the opening of the campus, although some of the communication used was misleading,” she wrote, adding, “We’ll fix that!”
The cause of the outage remained unknown earlier this week, O’Neill said, adding, “What we do know is there were severe electrical storms overnight.”
Exam student Avery found a silver lining in the situation.
“It was OK,” she said. “I did have more time to study but I wish I could have done it (Monday).”
Javier Salcedo’s history class was canceled due to the power outage.
“Great. Sleep,” Salcedo said. “No issues.”