By Martin J. Kidston
What was intended to be a one-day electrical shutdown at Montana State University-Northern lasted five days keeping many campus residents without power for much of the week, the school said Monday.
Director of Student Life Bill Lanier said that Scott Construction from Billings was contracted last spring in order to complete an electrical loop around campus. The work had recently reached the phase where the schools building were to be connected to the new power system.
Consequently, last Monday the power was shut down at 10 am at Morgan Hall, family housing and the campus day care so workers could complete the project. However, they soon encountered problems.
Come late Monday, they realized they couldnt get it done, Lanier said. They turned the power on at night, and were going to shut it off again on Tuesday.
Tuesday came and went, and the problems had not been overcome. It wasnt until Thursday did workers have the systems up and running.
Then, on Thursday night after 10 pm, there was a problem where the power on the entire campus went out, Lanier said. When it came back on, only part of the campus had power.
Lanier said an electrical connection within the new system failed, leaving Morgan Hall, McKenzie Hall, family housing and one of the faculty houses without power. Nearly 240 people were effected by the power failure.
We couldnt identify the problem, Lanier said. The construction crew had left for the weekend and Montana Power was not cooperative at all. They were asked to come out and check the problem. They were unwilling to come in.
Workers from Scott Construction were called back from Billings that night, Lanier said, and arrived on scene at 5 am Friday morning.
People werent happy, Lanier said. With no electricity there is no heat, and with no heat, there is no hot water.
Lanier said the problem was corrected Friday morning, but having endured an entire week with failed promises, the residents were angry. The school held a meeting Friday night.
The mistake I made was not having the housing manager tell people individually that we were having problems, Lanier said. We posted notices that the power was going to be off.
The school believes most of the problems have now been corrected.
Im not saying we wont have anymore problems, Lanier said. Hopefully, theyll have everything connected. But anything thats brand new will have quirks that need fine tuning.
The power was off between 10 am and 5:30 pm Monday through Thursday until power was lost completely Thursday night. It was restored Friday morning. Lanier said their are no more scheduled shutdowns.