During the past decade the University has experienced several electrical power outages including the northeast regional power outage of August 2003. On many other occasions the University has experienced wide variation in electrical voltage as supplied by both the Detroit Public Lighting Department (PLD) and Detroit Edison (DTE). Problems with PLD electrical reliability have been especially acute in recent years, forcing the University to shut down operations and cancel classes in June 2011 and September 2013.
Beyond the campus closures, each event has resulted in other negative impacts including lost in-process research experiments, lost or damaged research specimen or material inventories, damaged research instruments, damaged building support equipment, and lost data. The related consequences to faculty, student, and staff productivity have been significant.
Wayne State University’s portfolio of buildings includes several that contain or support very critical assets. Examples of critical assets are student residences, DLAR facilities, cold rooms, -20 and -80 freezers, research laboratories, HAZMAT storage, and information technology infrastructures. Since the regional power outage of 2003 the University has invested several million dollars to install full building capable emergency back-up power generators in order to protect the Mott Center, Scott Hall, Lande, Biological Science, Chemistry, and most recently the Data Center.
Planned solutions to mitigate the impact of major outages as well as “brownouts” and power surges include additional emergency back-up power generators, uninterruptable power supplies for sensitive instrumentation, and time delay restart devices for freezers. Multiple buildings and locations will receive electrical service reliability upgrades such as generators, uninterruptable power supply, freezer protection, and service entrance upgrades.