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Cause of Tuesday's power outage still undetermined, equipment damage suspected

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Dani Cropper | The Daily Wildcat Old Main is the original building from the University of Arizona.

University of Arizona Facilities Management is investigating the cause of the power and Wi-Fi outage that affected several main campus buildings Tuesday morning, April 2. 

UA Facilities Management reported that the possible culprit behind the power outage was equipment damage. 

Some of the transmission lines from the campus’ transformers, devices that transfer electrical energy between circuits, were damaged. UA Facilities Management is currently looking to have them repaired and is doing additional testing for other potential causes. 

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Chris Kopach, UA Facilities Management assistant vice president, said the staff has been working very closely with Tucson Electric Power to prevent outages on campus. 

“It is our goal to have zero power outages on campus that are unplanned,” Kopach said. “And when we do have them, our staff works very diligently in a very safe manner. There’s a lot of processes that goes behind the scenes that people don’t see.”

Kopach said the Facilities Management’s medium voltage team worked very hard to restore the power on Tuesday quickly and safely. 

Tuesday’s short series of unplanned blackouts started around 11 a.m. and caused frustration among some faculty members and a small hope for canceled classes for some students.

Julia Hoofnagle, a sophmore philosophy major, was sitting in the Gallagher Theater in the Student Union Memorial Center for her GEOS 216 - Dinosaurs course when the second outage happened. Hoofnagle’s lecturer, Ji Yeon Shin, was reviewing last week’s exam when the lights suddenly went out.

“There was at first a quiet gasp, and then people started laughing,” Hoofnagle said. 

Hoofnagle said it was a funny situation, because students requested Dr. Shin to cancel classes beforehand when the first power outage happened, though she added she thought overall the blackouts were handled well. 

“More frustrating than class being canceled was the Rec Center being closed as a result of the power outage,” Hoofnagle said. “Very, very annoying.”

Another thing Hoofnagle noted was a miscommunication between the university and students. They received an email or text the power was fully restored when it wasn’t.

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In regards to possible unplanned outages in the future, Kopach said there may be “bumps” during the monsoon season, but they will work together with TEP to prevent unplanned outages. 

According to TEP, Tuesday’s outages did not seem to be directly related to their delivery of service to the campus but rather a possible issue with the electrical meter, a device that measures the amount of electric energy consumed. However, TEP still works with their clients small to big like the UA and respond to all outage incidents.  


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