Cal State Long Beach has recently endured two power outages, something that has not occurred for several years, according to Scott Charmack, Associate Vice-President for Physical Planning and Facilities Management at CSULB. He acknowledged that power outages can occur in a myriad of ways, but CSULB is quite prepared for them.
“All of our buildings have automatic emergency lighting that signals off whenever something like this happens,” Charmack said. We very rarely get power outages [at CSULB], though.”
Charmack said the initial response to an emergency outage is simply determining the nature of the outage, and how long it will take to fix the problem.
“If the power is out for an extended period of time, we would give information to the president and vice-president [at CSULB] for them to determine what must be done,” Charmack said. “Our last outage was 20 minutes.”
Charmack said every building is equipped with multiple feeders of 12,000 volts, which keeps power generated throughout the facility.
“We have a system of redundancies,” Charmack said. “Nothing’s perfect, though, and we do what we can to minimize the risks.”
In the case of the two accidents, the damages were the result of both internal and external problems impacting the campus power system.
The first power outage was the result of a bird’s nest that had damaged equipment, according to Charmack.
“We are in the process of getting it fixed,” Charmack said.
Charmack said the second power outage was due to Edison equipment being inoperable, leaving no automatic transfer available to the campus. As a result, he said power had to be transferred manually because of the inconvenience of the equipment used for transferring volts.
“Some of the equipment is very old,” Charmack said. “We are looking to upgrade our equipment.”
Charmack said the campus has held an energy conservation program for 14 years. He said the campus has not had many power outages in its history, and links the current issue to the lack of improved equipment.
“If it wasn’t for our program, current energy bills would have been 50 percent higher,” Charmack said. “It has been a very aggressive campaign to raise issues.”
Danny Ariza, a third-year business major, said he would feel upset in the presence of a power outage or blackout.
“I would feel vulnerable,” Ariza said. “You pay to use these utilities all the time. Although there are systems that are very old, people should be expected to make sure they’re working, instead of worrying about fixing them.”
Lauren Brown, a third-year biology major, said she would stay positive about the situation.
“If I was in class, I would be happy because class would be canceled,” Brown said. “I would just remain calm and relax, because it’s common for these things to happen.”