Though Yale has sustained power through both a record-breaking snowstorm and hurricane this school year, an 80-minute outage swept the University’s campus amid Wednesday evening’s clear weather.
The unexpected blackout hit Yale’s central campus at approximately 6:25 p.m. and lasted until about 7:45 p.m., leaving thousands of students without lights, electricity and Internet service. According to University Vice President Linda Lorimer, United Illuminating Company — a New Haven-based regional electric distribution company — suffered a major power disruption that affected Yale’s Central Power Plant Wednesday afternoon.
Representatives from United Illuminating confirmed that an underground cable, which runs throughout the city, had malfunctioned, affecting various streets throughout the New Haven area, including Broadway and York streets. As emergency dispatch from United Illuminating isolated the outage and restored service, campus security embarked on a visual inspection of central campus to ensure that alarm systems were online and well-functioning. Affected areas included Old Campus, the 12 residential colleges, Swing Space, the Yale Law School, the Yale School of Architecture, the Yale School of Art, Bass Library and Sterling Memorial Library, but not the Yale School of Medicine or the Yale-New Haven Hospital.
The blackout also caused a failure in the Yale ITS servers, including the EliApps email portal, which did not recover until approximately 10 p.m.
“Luckily, facilities was able to restore all power, but unfortunately, there was collateral damage as a result of the surge that affected our network,” said Maria Bouffard, Yale director of emergency management, in an 11 p.m. email to the News. “About 60 percent of the traffic on the Internet is operating. Yale University ITS is replacing equipment and hoping that it will be restored tonight. The Yale Police Department increased patrols in the area to maintain the same level of safety.”
As administrators hastened to restore power in the affected areas, several fire trucks were seen around 7 p.m. outside of the Yale Central Power Plant, located at the intersection of Ashmun, Grove and York streets. Doors to the power plant remained open throughout the evening, and police officers were stationed outside to secure the perimeter.
Lorimer said she joined Yale Police Department Chief Ronnell Higgins in the police headquarters to ensure that systems were being restored according to emergency plans.
Yale administrators issued a campuswide alert at 7:45 p.m. informing faculty, staff and students of the outage and restoration efforts, as well as urging them to report outages that persisted after another hour.
Power returned to the residential colleges, the libraries and most of the affected buildings around 7:30 p.m. — but not without any inconveniences. Hungry students were evacuated from the Trumbull College dining hall, as a failure in the fan system caused smoke to emanate from the kitchen.
The Yale School of Architecture was slated to host a talk by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Wang Shu for 6:30 p.m. Due to the power outage, the talk was postponed to 9 p.m., leaving attendees waiting in the dark.
Among other disruptions, Yale Security representatives said that keycard access to all buildings was impeded and personnel were still attempting to restore security systems as of 8:20 p.m.
After power was restored in most of the buildings, extra security guards and YPD officers throughout campus were instructed to observe people entering the buildings and discourage them to use elevators in case of a second power outage, according to an officer stationed outside of the Hall of Graduate Studies.
The outage appeared to have only affected buildings powered by the Yale Central Power Plant. According to City Hall spokeswoman Anna Mariotti, New Haven residents and local businesses did not suffer from Wednesday’s power outage.