Los Angeles Community College District officials have authorized a $30,000 study of problems with Pierce College's aged electrical system, which caused 17 power outages in two months this fall.
The Woodland Hills campus never lost power entirely, but the outages in August and September did shut down as much as one-third of the school for as long as four hours, said grounds administrator Dave Bush, who said the outages were the worst the campus has experienced.
The district Board of Trustees on Wednesday night allocated the money to hire a consulting firm, Frederick Brown Associates, to evaluate the campus electrical system, parts of which are nearly 50 years old, and to make recommendations on repair or upgrades.
Bush said the campus probably needs several hundred thousand dollars worth of new equipment and, to avoid problems in the future, a better maintenance system. Whether the district will approve the work and how it would be funded remain open questions.
The outages were caused by a range of equipment failures and other problems, Bush said. But common factors were aged equipment, a lack of preventive maintenance and hot weather during the fall, which put added demand on the system, he said.
"It caught us by surprise. We knew we were headed for trouble, but we didn't know it was going to hit us so soon," Bush said. A shortage of funds over the years has led to lagging maintenance and equipment upgrades to prevent such problems, he said.
Although the campus has adequate power to serve its needs and many of the main electrical distribution lines have been replaced in recent years, Bush said some problems occurred in feeder lines to campus buildings that were installed 30 years old ago or more.