With temperatures falling and winter setting in, Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides electricity for the University, poses the threat of a campus-wide power outage.
“If the TVA needs the power or has a limited source, they will call us and we have five minutes to shut down,” President Bob Davies said. “In return for shutting down, we receive a $400,000 dollar credit to our account and that’s a lot of money.”
When it comes to having to shut down the power, it’s a possible risk and reward.
“We are able to do other things with those funds, but we run the risk of being notified at any second that we basically have five minutes to shut down all the power on campus,” Davies said.
If TVA required the University to shut down, generators across campus would be turned on, he said.
Davies said to ensure that the generators are working to their best ability, every month the University goes through a drill and shuts down the power and checks each generator.
The generators ensure the residential and dining areas of campus continue to function so students are fed and stay warm. There are also a few generators on the academic side of campus, but there aren’t enough for employees to be comfortably working.
Murray State is one of 25 other universities who have electricity through TVA with similar contracts.
The condition of the pipes in the water system on campus is a major concern for officials in regard to the potential power shut down. Pipes that freeze under extreme weather conditions can cause several thousands of dollars worth of damage. University officials reported about 40 percent of the buildings on campus were damaged in the winter of 2014 due to bursting water pipes.
Rosemary O’Brien, freshman from Whiteland, Ind., is one of the many students who would suffer if there was a power outage.
“It’s scary to think about because you don’t really know what will happen,” O’Brien said. “I’ve never been here when something like this happened, but I know that if the pipes bust, it could damage people’s stuff.”
Last year a students living on the first floor of Franklin Residential College came back from Winter Break to find their rooms soaked through.
Bryan Beals, sophomore from Owensboro, Ky., learned firsthand what happens when TVA shuts the power down for an extended amount of time.
The water from the busted pipes soaked three posters, two instrument cases and two rugs inside his residential college room.
“Maintenance did a good job of cleaning it up,” Beals said. “There wasn’t much water on the floors. They cleaned it up with mops and vacuums, but we were still able to sleep in our room that night.”
Story by Brittany Risko, Staff writer