Power Up

Security turns to continuous power for support

Located in historic Williamsburg, Va., the College of William and Mary is the second-oldest college in the nation. In 2008, the historic institution completed construction of a 165,000-square-foot Integrated Science Center, which was designed to bring the college’s science programs under one roof.

Many of the disciplines have unique needs. For example, the chemistry department requires a lot of air handling, with ventilation hoods placed strategically in teaching and research labs on the ISC’s two chemistry floors. Biology students need to store samples in special cooling units, usually called “minus-80” freezers, as they keep their contents at -80 degrees Celsius. If the room temperature rises above 83 degrees Fahrenheit, the compressors on minus-80 freezers start to overload, then fail, causing faculty and students to lose years of work overnight.

Due to these requirements, it is imperative that the building have a strong backup power system. The space designated for the generators is limited as well.

Space and Time are Key
When William and Mary began its search for a standby system, the college had originally specified a 1,250-kilowatt system with a 10,000-gallon main storage diesel tank. At the same time, new EPA regulations on standby generators made it more difficult to deliver in a timely fashion. Because of this, the college would have needed to wait more than one year, causing them to re-bid the project.

“When we re-sent the bid, Generac came back to us with 2x600 kW with a belly tank that held 6,000 gallons of fuel, which Bay Diesel informed us was enough fuel to last for four days without having to re-fuel, which is a necessity for us,” said Randy Strickland, project manager of William and Mary. “Not only does the 2x600 kW sit on a smaller lot than the 1,250 kW would have, but the tank also is a lot smaller and is under the system, saving us much-needed loading dock space.”

Due to the nature of the facility, time was of the essence. A system needed to be in place by the time construction of the new building was complete.

The modular power system allowed for a much quicker 14-week lead time, compared with 40-plus weeks from other suppliers.

“We didn’t have to wait more than a year for a system to be built,” Strickland said. “The re-bid had already cost us a lot of time, so when Bay Diesel came to us with the Generac genset solution, we were ready to move forward.

Their bid was accepted in July, and by February we were in business and the system was installed.”

The Need for Reliable Power
The ISC currently houses the Department of Chemistry and portions of the Department of Biology. It is the first building on the Williamsburg campus devoted primarily to scientific activity, which is why the college must provide standby power should an outage occur.

“We can’t afford to have a backup system that isn’t 100-percent reliable,” Strickland said. “The building’s contents are irreplaceable. Should we experience an outage without full protection, the departments could lose thousands of dollars in research within moments.”

Generac’s MPS provides the college with a solution that combines the output of multiple generators. The 2x600 -kW system ensures that each genset backs up the other, so critical loads receive redundant protection, all while providing the benefits of paralleled power generation in an easy-to-use, single-source system.

The system also features onboard paralleling capabilities, making it easy to achieve “need plus-one” or greater coverage by simply adding modular generators of the appropriate size. It is the notion of scalability that allows for killiwatt outputs to be tailored to the college’s needs. Generac’s modular approach combines the output of multiple generators with digital paralleling controls and integrated switching on board each generator. Generac’s integrated paralleling eliminates the need to use complex third-party switchgear to parallel generators.

In addition, the simple sub-base fuel tank approach pulls the fuel directly from the tank, eliminating the possibility of erroneous fuel distribution.

Providing Value
Not only did William and Mary benefit from the reduced installation time, but by installing two 600-kW gensets, rather than one 1,250 kW, the college saved almost 20 percent of the cost of the system originally specified.

“With Generac’s MPS, the mechanical installation requirements are significantly reduced,” said Rob Robins, senior vice president of sale at Bay Diesel. “There was no need for fuel piping since the tank was installed underneath the system. The reduced installation needs also attributed to a reduction in the overall cost, making the MPS a logical choice for the school.”

MPS Hard at Work
While many of the outages have been planned, the college experienced two unplanned outages since installing the MPS from Generac.

“This system has worked like a champ,” Strickland said. “There was a campus-wide outage one night that lasted about four hours, and no one even knew that it had occurred.

“Generac’s generators started right up and it was business as usual. The other outage was the result of a lost phase from our local power supplier.”

Keeping Cool
On the heels of the successful installation at the science center, William and Mary chose Generac to install another 2x600-kW MPS in the SEWM Central Plant to provide cooling and heating to the science center.

“Because of the environmental needs of the science center, protecting the HVAC equipment is just as critical as protecting the science center itself,” Strickland said.

This article originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of Security Today.

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