Electrical upgrades prompt outages across campus

One of several recently-installed metering boxes hangs mounted to a wall in the Maintenance Building. –Photo by T.J. Thomson

One of several recently-installed metering boxes hangs mounted to a wall in the Maintenance Building. –Photo by T.J. Thomson

Chadron State is powering down portions of campus this weekend so that subcontractors can install portions of a $110,000 energy-monitoring project in four buildings.

The Nebraska Unicameral funded the project through its Task Force for Building Renewal program. The Task Force operates under LB 309’s guidelines. Funds from the Task Force are earmarked for deferred repair, Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades, energy conservation, and safety projects.


“Each outage is planned for 1-2 hrs and will affect the entire building,” Blair Brennan, physical facilities coordinator, stated in a March 20 email.

Johnson Controls, of Milwaukee, manufactured the system, and is installing it with the help of local subcontractors from the Gering-Scottsbluff area, Brennan said Tuesday.

Results from a campus-wide energy study conducted last year by Olsson Associates, of Lincoln, spawned the current energy-monitoring initiative and will allow CSC to save money while operating more efficiently, Brennan said.

“After the study, we determined we need to monitor our energy use,” Brennan said.

The system can track steam, condensate, and water usage, Brennan said. If a pipe breaks in a building, the system can detect it.

The system enables the college to use load-shedding, a process where non-essential utilities can be shut down during high-use periods to curb system stress during peak times.

“It saves the college money,” Brennan said. “It will be a very useful tool.”

Brennan said energy use typically peaks during the first few days of the academic year, and that the Nebraska Public Power District then bills the college at that rate for the remainder of the year. The college wants to reduce its energy use during peak times to save money, and this system makes that happen.

Data from the energy monitoring enables the college to track the energy conservation effectiveness of past renovations, such as insulation, light upgrades, and window replacements. CSC plans using this data to project how much it can save on utility expenses by upgrading or renovating its existing buildings.

“They say the system from Johnson Controls can give us any type of report we can think of,” Brennan said.

CSC does not expect analyzable results for at least a year, Brennan said.

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