UC Santa Barbara experienced few, if any, long-term effects from the power outage Wednesday night.
Power went out on campus for nearly two hours Wednesday night after a capacitor bank switch in the top level of the campus power grid in lot 14 failed, creating a spark in one of the transmitters which exploded, showering the floor of the grid with oil. Edison employees cleaned the oily mess, which tests showed to be non-toxic, and returned power to about one third of campus by 11 p.m. Edison employees worked all night to replace the broken transistor by 4 a.m.
The areas of campus that run on 16,340 volts were without normal power for more than two hours.
Two thirds of campus, including on-campus residence halls, lacked all power except emergency lighting all night. The other third of campus was on a different 14,000 volt transistor that was not damaged by the explosion and had power by 11 p.m. Wednesday.
Louise Moore, director of research, said there were no reports of problems with research experiments reported to her office, but that it is possible that damage occurred and researchers fixed the problems themselves without contacting her office.
The only building on campus left entirely without emergency power was the Storke Communications Building, which lost all power including that needed to run the aircraft warning lights on Storke Tower, power the Daily Nexus editorial office and keep KCSB on the air. UCSB Facilities Management attributed the failure to the inadequacy of the building’s aged generator.
“It’s an old generator and it’s undersized for what it’s used for,” Maintenance Supervisor Robert Wright said. “It’s very unreliable.”
The rest of campus had at least emergency power, providing illumination for hallways, exit signs and doorways.