Successful test of power generation capabilities

The May 19 power outage that impacted most of the Starkville campus of Mississippi State provided a highly successful test of the "black start" capabilities at the university's power generation plant.

MSU vice president for student affairs Bill Kibler said: "The expected campus power outage on May 19 provided MSU with a unique opportunity to test our emergency power capability in the event of a future unanticipated power outage. When the power went out to the campus at midnight on May 19, all systems at the campus power generation plant worked as they were supposed to, and power was restored to the campus in less than 15 minutes.

"Due to the preparation and the expertise of our MSU utilities staff and our facilities staff, we were able to conduct a virtually flawless test of our emergency power generation capability," Kibler said. "This successful test enables us to be better prepared in the future for unexpected campus power outages."

Much of the planning and successful operation of the "black start" test were credited to MSU vice president for campus operations Amy Tuck, MSU mechanical and energy engineer J.D. Hardy, MSU generation plant supervisor Lee Collins, MSU electrical supervisor Dwight Dempsey, MSU vehicles and equipment manager Ricky Brock, and MSU associate director of facilities management George Davis.

Hardy said the process worked "as it had been designed to work" and was "very successful."

Hardy said that the MSU Power Generation Plant and Substation is managed by Campus Services personnel, but that the equipment had been extensively tested prior to the outage. In conjunction with the planned outage by Starkville Electric and the Tennessee Valley Authority, the electrical feed from SED was cut off and the campus lost power at 11:55 p.m. on Saturday night, May 18.

The MSU system then went into "automatic black start" mode. By 12:10 a.m. on Sunday, May 19, power was fully restored to campus, Hardy said. The generation plant provided power to the campus for the duration of the 5-hour Starkville outage until approximately 5:30 a.m.

The Starkville Electric Department, in conjunction with the Tennessee Valley Authority, announced plans for two city-wide power outages on May 19 and June 23 beginning at 12:01 a.m. and lasting about five hours.

"These outages are necessary because TVA is nearing completion of a major transmission project that will have positive impacts on both our city and the surrounding area," said SED general manager Terry N. Kemp in a recent letter to customers. "The final stages of this $20 million project will be connection to the Starkville Electric primary substation."

"As was the case on May 19, MSU Campus Services personnel are doing everything possible to mitigate the impact of the outage on June 23," said Hardy. "However, we are still encouraging all campus entities to take every precaution they deem necessary in anticipation of a five-hour power outage."

MSU director of University Relations Sid Salter said that the university had been advised that Starkville Electric intends to keep the power to the MSU Research Park online during the outage, but that the main campus -- including the College of Veterinary Medicine -- would be impacted.

"All 4-County Electric Power Association customers -- including North Farm and South Farm on the MSU campus -- should not be impacted by the outage," said Salter. "The university has done everything possible to ensure that redundancies and generators protect research projects."

For more information on the June 23 planned outage, contact the MSU Office of University Relations at 662-325-7454 or 601-507-8004 or contact Starkville Electric at 662-323-3133. Campus personnel who have questions regarding generators or other redundant systems used to mitigate the power outage should call Hardy at 662-325-5899.

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