TVA Power Shutdown, Failed Generator Lead to Damages at MSU

Jan 7, 2014

Credit flickr

The Murray State University main campus remains closed through at least Wednesday night, as damage to buildings is surveyed after Monday's extreme cold.

MSU facilities management has yet to file a complete report, but estimates at least 40 percent of main campus buildings sustained damage, with frozen pipes and equipment. University vehicles were also damaged.

MSU was obligated to cut its power consumption Monday night because it has an interruptible service contract with the Tennessee Valley Authority. TVA required the move due to near-record power usage.

MSU spokeswoman Catherine Sivills said a back-up generator failed, leaving the campus without power.

“That’s why we did that contract - because we had that generator to cover it if we did ever had to power down,” Sivills said. “We test the generator regularly. They just tested it; it worked fine. So this is the first time it’s malfunctioned.”

Sivills said the contract has saved MSU around $300,000 a year, for the five years the school has been on it, but powering down in the severe weather could have contributed to some, but not all of the damage to campus. Regents College had seen flooding in the afternoon prior to TVA's shutdown notice.

Sivills said the university will know more tomorrow about which individual buildings were hit hardest.

A small number of students were on campus last night. They were relocated to warm places to stay.

Several changes were made to the MFA program's winter residency, with a genre seminar moved to the president's home and a reading by Wisconsin poet laureate Max Garland moved off-campus to the Murray Visitors Center.

Sivills said she doesn't anticipate any refunds for those in the program, as the schedule has thus far seen only changes - not cancellations.