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Lights out, and on, at Dominican

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Throughout the semester, Dominican lost power for several hours due to high winds, totaling five outages. Dan Bulow, Dominican’s director of buildings and grounds, is taking action so Dominican never goes without heat and electricity in any situation.

In February 2011, Dominican lost power for several days after a transformer blew out, leaving need for a replacement costing $90,000. The cost was taken from Physical Plant’s budget. During the power outage, $1,500 a day was needed to run generators, which was reimbursed to Dominican thanks to insurance claims through ComED. Bulow is taking action to help keep residents warm even when the power is out. In the next few months, Dominican will never be without heat thanks to the purchase of new generators.

Whenever the power goes out, ComEd has a priority list of places that need power first. This list includes hospitals and life safety facilities such as health care centers and nursing homes. Dominican is higher on the list due to resident students and the sisters.

Bulow states, “I used to be a big fan of ComEd. I can’t fault them with the strength of these storms.” Every outage experienced was due to storm intensity, even the most recent outage on Dec. 1 with high winds.

Tim Matiya is the ComEd representative for Dominican. Matiya was unavailable for comment, but he does keep Dominican in the loop. Bulow and Matiya keep in close contact when power outages occur.

Dominican receives its power from two different substations, which is why separate buildings are affected differently. Parmer, Centennial and Coughlin receive power separately from the rest of the campus, as they are on different lines. The line that has been affected the most this year runs through Thatcher Woods and up to North Avenue while the other line runs under the soccer field. Parmer, Centennial and Coughlin run on the line that runs to North Avenue. Due to the line’s exposure to the weather, the exposed line (Power Centennial and Coughlin) experiences more problems.

The generators that Dominican owns are for “life safety” [emergencies]. The most noticeable generator is located between Parmer and the soccer field. For example, if someone was stuck in an elevator during a power outage, the generators provide sufficient power to get him or her out.

“We’re looking into a generator for Centennial for life safety,” Bulow stated. The entire campus has life safety coverage, but Bulow is looking into a generator specifically for Centennial.

Even though this past power outage was small, it still caused problems for students. Sophomore and resident assistant Katie Eck states: “It’s hard to get a hold of information right as the power went out. I tried calling the Welcome and Information Desk regarding canceled classes due to the several concerned students at my door.”

Even when classes are later in the day, the resetting of electronic appliances can be frustrating. Senior Luke D’Anna states, “Loss of power causes a lot of problems, especially when you rely on an alarm clock to get to class on time.”

Bulow is putting together an emergency booklet for each building with important, technical information. This booklet will come in handy when the power is out at the Welcome and Information Desk in the Lewis entrance. The staff that manages the desk answers phone calls and gives information regarding Dominican events.

Without power, completing the job can seem daunting. Mary Sadofsky, the Welcome and Information Desk Supervisor, states, “Without the computers quick electronic directory, flipping through the pages of the paper directory can make anyone feel helpless.” Besides the slow phone call transfers, agents update departments with information. With the new booklet, the information will be tangible and accessible without power.

– Olivia Antosz, Contributing Writer


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