Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Milstein Hall was one building affected by a power outage across campus this morning. Only a few lights remained on, powered by a backup generator.

April 11, 2016

Damaged Transmission Line Responsible for Cornell Power Outage

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A damaged crossarm on a 115 transmission line close to Maple Avenue caused a power outage on Cornell’s campus and parts of the surrounding Ithaca area Monday, according to a statement from Cornell facilities.

The damaged transmission line, which was located outside of the Cornell substation, interrupted electric service to Etna, east Ithaca, and Cornell — an area that includes 6,483 people — according to Bob Pass, a representative from New York State Electric and Gas.

NYSEG and Cornell utilities personnel responded to reports of the outage, according to a University statement. Power was restored to all parts of campus by 12:48 p.m., about an hour after the initial loss of power.

Personnel sectioned off the area and are currently making repairs to the line, according to Pass.

Several laboratories on campus experienced difficulties with equipment during the power outage, with students voicing complaints that they lost work or damaged important materials. Although certain crucial equipment, such as ultra-cold freezers, was able to be run on backup generators, many other machines turned off completely, according to Prof. Gerald Feigenson, biochemistry.

“[It was] just a half hour with dim light, but no one was using sensitive equipment at that time,” Feigenson said, describing his own lab.

Some research instruments are connected to an uninterruptible power supply unit, which allows for a safe shutdown in the event of power loss, according to Prof. Linda Nicholson, biochemistry.

Prof. Melissa Hines, chemistry, added that she was unaware of any serious damage the power outage inflicted on laboratory equipment in either chemistry labs or the Cornell Center for Materials Research’s shared facilities.

Some students in Goldwin Smith Hall were forced to relocate or cancel classes due to the power outage.

Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Some students in Goldwin Smith Hall were forced to relocate or have classes cancelled due to the power outage.

“In the CCMR facilities, most of our critical equipment, such as our multimillion dollar electron microscopes, have uninterruptable power supplies which give us time to shut down the instruments in an safe fashion,” Hines said. “Having said that, many labs cannot immediately bounce back from a power outage, as sensitive equipment may need a day or few days of conditioning before it is ready to use.”

Hines added that the Cornell Nanofabrication Facility has already informed its users that the space will be closed until tomorrow at the earliest.

The outage also forced some professors to cancel classes. Erika Axe ’18 said power returned to her Introduction to Organic and Biological Chemistry class — which took place in Baker Hall — approximately 10 minutes after the class began.

“After nearly 15 additional minutes of technical difficulties [after power returned], students were calling out to cancel the class and almost all of them voted to be let out,” Axe said.