Pretty Cheap, for a Blackout

Officials Estimate Friday Night Outage Cost Under $3K

Unless you were typing a paper on a computer during last Friday evening's blackout, chances are you survived the incident relatively unscathed.

Lawrence R. Kilduff, associate director of Facilities Maintenance, said the blackout cost the University no more than $3000, mostly in overtime to repair workers, and that there was no lasting damage.

Less Positive

The blackout, which hit at 7:45 p.m., occurred because of the collapse of a worn buss, a piece of copper which carries electricity through a connection, Kilduff explained. This failure affected one of the three main lines serving the University.

About 3000 students were affected, as two buildings at the Business School, all River houses except Dunster, the Faculty Club, Widener Library, Carpenter Center, the Freshman Union, and Stillman Infirmary were left without power, Kilduff said. Power was fully restored by 11:30 p.m., Kilduff said.

How Does This Thing Work?

Robert Saltonstall, associate vice president, for administration, said Harvard, which buys 3800 volts of electricity in bulk from the city utility, has two alternate routes for supplying all buildings with electricity. "Delay occurs because we have to first find the cause of the original problem so that we don't risk blowing the second system," Saltonstall said.

"We had a few people stuck in elevators, but our crew just went around systematically, and got them out," Kilduff said. Thanks to backup emergency generators, service at Stillman Infirmary remained unaffected except for a downed elevator.

Saltonstall estimates that the University has "under five" power outages a year, which stem from a variety of problems, including water penetration into electrical vaults. During Hurricane Gloria September 27, several buildings lost power.