Blackout disrupts community

On Saturday at approximately 10:30 a.m., the College and community experienced a regional blackout. The power loss’ likely cause was reportedly “an errant crow” that came into contact with National Grid equipment at the North Adams substation, according to iberkshires.com. Power resumed about 45 minutes later.

The blackout impacted the College in two particular areas: Dining Services and Campus Safety and Security.

Due to the loss of power, Dining Services’ cooking operations “at that time ceased to function,” according to Chris Abayasinghe, assistant director of student dining. “Everything from our soda beverage machines to our ovens to our electrical equipment shut down due to the loss of power,” he said.

As a response, Dining Services focused on preparing available light lunches. The dining staff went into the reserve stock of paper goods as well, given that the dishwasher was unable to function. “Just as we were getting ready to open lunch, the power came back on,” Abayasinghe said, “so we really lucked out with that.”

“The blackout took Security from normal operation to emergency mode in the blink of an eye, or the flap of a wing in this case,” said Dave Boyer, director of Security.

Specific areas of the College, including Security and the Office of Information Technologies (OIT) for example, operate on emergency generators, according to Boyer.

During the brief blackout, “Close to 100 phone calls were made to Security responders, technicians, agencies and professors with experiments,” he said. “Close to 1000 alarms were processed.”
While the College was not directly responsible for restoring power in the area, “Security, Facilities and OIT staffs did mobilize on campus and did a lot of work to restore equipment and systems after the power was restored,” Boyer said.

Vice President for Operations Steve Klass commended both teams on the work they did: “I’m very grateful for the way in which everyone who needed to be here arrived in a timely manner and addressed the challenges as they arose.”

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