On Tuesday, Dec. 8, MSU Campus Services will conduct the annual Power Assurance Test of the Generation Plant to verify its ability to operate during a prolonged area-wide power outage. Power will be shut down and taken off the Starkville Utilities’ system at 3:30 a.m. and will be off for up to 60 minutes until power is restored by the MSU Power Generation Plant. Over the next three and a half hours, the MSU Facilities Management personnel will operate the 26 Megawatt turbine system through various generation modes, verifying the system’s proper operation during an extended outage. During this testing, further outages are unlikely but may occur. Normal utility power will be restored from Starkville Utilities’ system before 7:30 a.m.
This outage will not affect the areas served by 4-County Power Association or Starkville Utilities connections, such as Technology Park, North Farm, Softball & Tennis, and South Farm.
The main purpose of the MSU Power Generation Plant 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.
A secondary purpose of the plant is to provide power when an area wide outage occurs that will last for a significant duration. For this situation, planning and preparation for this test has been on-going for months in Campus Services.
“We test to ensure the system will operate when we really need it,” explained MSU Associate Director for Utilities Dave Maharrey. “Reoccurring tests are necessary for continued reliability of the university mission.”
“The generation plant has been in place since 2005. Although the facility operates frequently in peak-shaving mode, we have only tested the back-up power capabilities of the plant a few times when TVA and Starkville Utilities were performing maintenance on their electrical distribution infrastructure,” MSU Associate Director for Engineering Services J.D. Hardy said. “Those area-wide utility outages demonstrated the benefit of this plant to our campus.”