Blackout: Power outages due to utility faults

Melissa Last

Lafayette experienced a sudden and short power outage last Friday morning at around 1 a.m., due to problems with an electrical system in Easton that provides power to Lafayette’s campus.

According to Director of Plant Operations Bruce Ferretti, the outage originated in the Metropolitan Edison distribution system, which serves as Lafayette’s electric utility. The temporary loss of power was allegedly caused by a fault that developed on one of the distribution circuits, and was large enough to interrupt Lafayette’s electrical service. Lafayette has control devices, which automatically restored power after a short period of time.

Many students are unaware of the outage, as it happened in the middle of the night and was quickly restored. While some students complained of their alarm clocks being reset, and sleeping through a class as a result, most were unaffected by the outage.

“Although the time span without power can be quite short, two or three seconds is long enough to disrupt many devices on campus,” Ferretti said. “Items like alarm clocks, elevators, various security systems, and some computers had to be reset or rebooted.”

As far as prevention of similar outages in the future goes, there is little Lafayette can do to increase the reliability of the power utility’s distribution network. That being said, the college is constantly engaged in a continual renewal process to make its own electrical distribution system to make it as reliable and safe as possible.

Though the complete prevention of power outages may be too lofty a goal for the college to achieve, Lafayette works hard to ensure its preparedness in power outages.

“Lafayette maintains and operates many emergency generators throughout campus that function during electrical outages to provide emergency power for lighting, keyless entry, fire detection systems, and other various building systems,” Ferretti added.