As subfreezing temperatures and chilly winds swept through campus during the last two weeks, Tech facilities worked to keep operations running smoothly.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to prepare and ensure the campus is able to meet whatever weather situations occur,” said Andy Loftis, power plant manager in the facilities department.
“They’re temperatures we’ve not seen here in a long, long time,” Loftis said.
Loftis said the only major winter-related incident so far happened earlier this month when pipes burst in Derryberry Hall. The building flooded after an air handler’s hot water coil burst due to the freezing temperatures on Jan. 6.
“I consider that pretty good for the weather that we’ve had this month,” Loftis said. “Lots of other places have had freezing problems. We’ve just had the one incident.”
The campus experienced brief a few brief, campus-wide power outages on Jan. 23 due to heightened electrical consumption across the region. In response to increased power usage, the Tennessee Valley Authority asked its customers late last week to voluntarily reduce energy usage to help prevent any power outages. This includes Tech’s campus.
“If there were enough voluntary cutbacks, they would not have to call any other power outages,” said Loftis. “Apparently, they’ve had some cooperation, because they did not call for an outage from us.”
Loftis said TVA did ask the campus to induce an electrical outage earlier this month on the same day Derryberry Hall flooded.
“TVA did call…about an electrical outage, so we ran on our generators from about 5 o’clock at night (Monday) until 9 o’clock (Tuesday morning),” Loftis said.
Loftis said the campus hasn’t been asked to produce one since that date.
Tech, which uses natural gas to circulate hot water for heat, was on a gas curtailment, or delivery restrictions, until the end of this week. This forced the department to dip into diesel oil fuel reserves. Loftis said there have been six days of curtailments this winter thus far.
But classes should be able to continue as usual, uninterrupted.
“It shouldn’t be anything faculty or students should even notice,” Loftis said.