Higher Education
8:39 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Board Chairman Says TVA Contract a Result of 'Rogue Decision Making'

A trash bin collects leaking water from burst pipes at MSU after a prolonged power outage on January 6th.
Credit Chad Lampe

The Murray State Board of Regents Chairman says it is an embarrassment that the Board was unaware of the significance of the TVA power contract that resulted in a campus power shutdown in January and more than $250,000  in resulting damage.

MSU entered into a 5 MR contract with the TVA in 2010 which allows the university to receive energy savings credits so long as they shut off power during peak usage when TVA dictates. A problem with circuitry and a generator resulted in numerous hours without power on January 6th, when near record low temperatures prompted TVA to exercise the contract. A relatively few number of students were on campus during the outage. But there was a significant amount of damage to water lines and cooling systems.

Board Chairman Dr. Deno Curris said in the Building and Grounds Committee meeting Tuesday that, based on meeting minutes, the board was aware of a contract in 2010. But, he blamed previous leadership entering the contract without the board being fully aware of the possible consequences.

“We cannot tolerate rogue decision making and one of the things we are dealing with tomorrow is a pretty clear statement of delegation of authority what this board is responsible for so everyone knows it and if there was ever a good reason to have something like that this is it," said Curris.

Curris is set to discuss a policy change regarding the board’s delegation of authority during Wednesday's quarterly meeting. MSU could change its contract, with a penalty. MSU facilities officials expect insurance claims to reduce the overall damage costs to the university. The committee also opted to proceed with the contract and reevaluate it when it expires.

MSU has saved more than $1m from the contract.  At least one other university in the region has a similar contract, but it's updated electrical grid allows for a more seamless transition from TVA power to locally generated power.