McDaniel flips switch on major electrical upgrade

McDaniel College during recent electrical upgrade
June 23, 2017

The Hill went dark for six days in May while 20 electrical workers replaced three of the four electrical feeder lines, a total of nearly a half mile of cable, and performed specialty maintenance — essentially averting inconvenient power outages and the real possibility of a campus-wide power failure.

The project was completed without problems, precisely as planned — and just six days after the shutdown, workers flipped the main switch and the College went from darkness into light.  

“Conditions we found during this work identified and corrected definite risks to future reliability and emergency repair costs,” said Mike McGarvey, the Aramark engineer in charge of the project. Aramark is the College’s facilities management company. “This work completes the replacement of the older campus cabling.”

To improve the reliability of the campus power-distribution system and avoid future unplanned power outages, the College replaced aged underground electric cables from the 1960s and conducted maintenance on the main incoming electrical equipment, McGarvey said. This electrical equipment connects the campus power distribution to the BGE utility power lines, and limited opportunities to fully service this equipment since it requires a complete shutdown of campus.

“The College spent a year planning the coordination of the shutdown to accomplish the upgrade,” said Tom Phizacklea, McDaniel vice president for Administration and Finance. “We took into consideration everything that absolutely had to have power and brought in five generators to supply power to our labs that have live animals and chemicals and to refrigerators storing food — and used light towers for added security and safety.”

Here’s a look at the electrical upgrade by the numbers:

Days campus was without power:  6

Feet of underground cable replaced: 2,500

Electrical feeder lines replaced: 3

Electrical workers completing project on campus: 20

Percent of older campus cabling replaced: 90%

Generators used during upgrade: 5

Light towers used during upgrade: 5

Manholes opened for access to cables: 7

Extra vacation hours granted McDaniel employees: 1,500

Cost of upgrade: $240,000

Campus was illuminated by five light towers during a planned power outage in May to complete a major electrical upgrade.