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The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

Gannon’s Power Crisis Explained

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Gannon University

Jan 19, 2024/12a

Erie, PA—Dark, cold, and windy are words that can be used to describe much of Gannon’s campus over the first week of classes for the 2024 Spring semester. A cold front with temperatures dipping into the low teens and wind speeds going up to about 63 mph made for a wet and windy mess of the Erie area. This resulted in uprooted trees and downed power lines leaving thousands of Erie residents without power as well as numerous buildings on campus, according to Erie Times-News.

These outages were most felt by the students living in the residence halls, including Harborview and South Hall, which went up to three nights without power, heat, or hot water. Warming centers and additional accommodations were offered to any affected students in the remaining campus buildings with power throughout the week, including the Nash Library and the Waldron Campus Center.

Penelec worked tirelessly through the week to fix down power lines and restore power to the campus buildings. The company had almost 200 contracted line workers from New York, Michigan, Kentucky, and Texas, helping in the effort to get electricity back up and running in the Erie area. The original plan was to have power restored to the entire university by Wednesday at 8 p.m., but unfortunately had to push until noon Thursday.

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Heavy winds were partly to blame for the delay, as Penelec workers could not safely go up in their bucket trucks due to the wind speed. “Further, they cannot use the bucket truck booms to hoist materials like cross arms, wire or transformers when winds exceed 30 miles per hour because loads can swing dangerously,” stated Todd Meyers, a spokesperson from Penelec, via email. The most direct reason for the outage at Gannon was due to multiple downed trees that fell onto a power line near West 12th and Walnut St. on Tuesday, January 9, at around 10:30 a.m. damaging poles and crossarms, which affected the power to more than 800 Penelec customers including the university.

“The poles that carry the circuit that feed Gannon also contain other circuits providing power to different parts of the city and, for their safety, crews cannot work to repair damage when the wires are energized.” Meyers explained. This led to a severe delay in power restoration to the campus.

On Thursday, January 11 at about 7:13 a.m., the university sent a message via Gannon’s Emergency Alert System stating that power has been restored to the entire campus. The message ended off saying “Some of us have had a rough week and may be at different points of recovery. Please remember to show grace.”

Going forward the university is still “assessing how things could have been handled differently,” according to Chief of Staff and Director of Marketing and Communications Douglas Oathout. The university commends the efforts of the entire Gannon Police & Safety team as well as Res Life and Physical Plant teams who worked tirelessly to make sure students were taken care of during such an uncertain scenario. President Iwanenko also personally reached out to Penelec to thank them for their efforts.

For future emergencies and incidents on campus the best way for students to stay up to date with information is to make sure everyone is registered to receive the Emergency Text Alerts and to always keep eye for other updates via the LiveSafe app, email, and social media posts.

Linked below is Penelec guide to power outages and a forum for any questions you may have directly to the university:

Penelec Guide: https://www.firstenergycorp.com/outages_help/outage_help/be_prepared_for_anoutage.htmlQuestions and concerns:  https://bit.ly/guquestions

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