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Short power, Internet outages hit campus

Ryan Sydlik | Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Approximately half the buildings on Notre Dame’s campus were affected by a power outage and all lost Internet service for a brief period Sunday afternoon, Director of Utilities Paul Kempf said.

Kempf said the outage lasted for about 15 minutes. It started shortly after 12:30 p.m. and by approximately 12:45 p.m., power was restored to most of the campus.

Internet service was out from 12:33 to approximately 1:20 p.m.

Buildings affected by the power outage included Knott Hall, Hesburgh Library, North Dining Hall, South Dining Hall, Farley Hall, Dillon Hall, Breen-Philips Hall, Fisher Hall, Pasquerilla East Hall, Zahm Hall and LaFortune Student Center.

The cause of the power outage was a supply interruption from an external supplier, not a fault of Notre Dame’s on-campus power plant, Kempf said.

When the connection was interrupted, the Notre Dame system shed half its load to cover the shortfall so the electrical grid would not damage itself, he said.

Notre Dame produces a portion of its own power at the campus power plant and buys another portion from outside suppliers. Since the suppliers who provide approximately half of Notre Dame’s power were cut off, the campus lost about half of its power.

“Nine feeders tripped, which is about half of the 20 feeders,” Kempf said.

The feeders – lines that supply power to clusters of buildings – shut down as a result of the temporary lack of power. When the power was restored, feeders went through a reconnection process and they came back on automatically.

The loss of electricity was not the only effect of the power outage, as Internet service for all of campus was lost as a result.

“The whole network was down,” Aaron Wright, a technical support analyst for OIT said.

He said while back-up generators exist to protect critical areas of the network such as the data center, they are not meant to keep all of campus running during a power outage.