MSU testing of Power Generation Plant yields successful operation

Contact: Sid Salter

MSU’s Power Generation Plant (Photo by Russ Houston)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A successful test of Mississippi State’s Power Generation Plant this week is helping university leaders plan and prepare to operate in case of a prolonged area-wide power outage. 

The Tuesday [March 12] test of the 26 Megawatt turbine system through various generation modes was conducted by MSU Campus Services to verify the system’s proper operation during an extended outage. 

“We plan and prepare for all emergency scenarios that might interrupt our normal university operations,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “The Power Assurance Test at the MSU Generation Plan helps us prepare for weather-related or accident-related interruptions of electrical power to our campus and to make sure we’ve done everything possible to ensure the safety and security of our students, faculty, staff and visitors to our campus. I’m grateful to Vice President Amy Tuck and her staff for conducting this productive and successful test of our systems.”

Tuck, vice president for campus services, said, “This testing helps ensure that we are able to serve the campus independently and seamlessly reconnect to Starkville Utilities. During this test, normal utility power was restored from the Starkville Utilities’ system at 7 a.m. after disconnecting at 3:30 a.m. We were pleased with the outcome and appreciate the professionals who conducted this exercise.”

The MSU Power Generation Plant’s main purpose is to function as a Peak-Shaving Plant, reducing demand on Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) electrical power grid. During peak-shaving, the plant picks up all but 1 MW of MSU’s electrical demand. This demand is approximately 21 MW in the midst of summer when all of the university’s cooling systems are engaged. 

Providing power when an area-wide outage occurs that will last for a significant duration is a secondary purpose of the plant. Planning and preparation to test for this situation has been ongoing for months in Campus Services, under the leadership of Tuck and Assistant Vice President George Davis.

“This effort successfully exercised MSU’s power generation capabilities and ensures both the system and our procedures are in place when needed in the future,” said Dave Maharrey, associate director of utilities for MSU Facilities Management, a division of Campus Services. “With the support of the administration, we plan to proactively perform annual testing on the Power Generation Plant in order to ensure its continued reliability in support of the university mission.”

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