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Update from President Tessier-Lavigne on wildfires, air quality, power supply
Dear Stanford community,
As those of you here in the Bay Area are all too aware, wildfires, poor air quality, unpredictable weather and power grid challenges are continuing to affect our region. I am writing this weekend to share some brief updates on these issues with all of you.
First and most importantly, the thoughts of our Stanford community continue to be with everyone affected by the wildfires across California, including those in our community who have been evacuated from fire areas such as the CZU Lightning Complex in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the SCU Lightning Complex to the east and south.
Stanford is working to support our employees who have been affected by the fires, and we have reached out to more than 1,000 employees who are either in the affected areas or live nearby. If you need assistance, please be in touch: Contact your HR manager or supervisor and let them know what resources you may need. We are continuing to work on additional ways of extending support to those who have been displaced by these terrible fires. Additional information related to the fires is available on the Cardinal at Work website.
As a result of the fires, air quality in the area around Stanford has continued to fluctuate this weekend. Please continue to follow the guidance shared via AlertSU last week to protect your health when the local air quality deteriorates. This guidance is on emergency.stanford.edu, and details and training materials are available from Stanford Environmental Health & Safety at https://ehs.stanford.edu/topic/general-workplace-safety/protection-from-wildfire-smoke. Official air quality readings for the local area are available at airnow.gov.
The National Weather Service is warning of the potential for thunderstorms later today and Monday, with gusty winds and lightning that could spark new wildfires. A Red Flag Warning is in effect for the Bay Area. Given the effects of last week’s storm, we want to be prepared, including with respect to the potential for power outages.
As brief background, electricity is delivered to the main Stanford campus from PG&E through two major transmission lines. One of these lines runs through the Santa Cruz Mountains. PG&E has said that it currently does not expect to initiate Public Safety Power Shutoffs due to the incoming weather system, and we are not anticipating any power interruptions at Stanford. However, based on the unpredictability of the wildfire and weather situation, we want to share general precautionary information about the potential effects of power supply disruption.
If Stanford receives advance notice of a power disruption, we will notify you through the AlertSU system. But power supply also can be affected with little or no advance notice. Land, Buildings & Real Estate has posted on the web a document that summarizes its Electrical Curtailment Plan in the event of a power supply interruption. We especially encourage building managers and those responsible for sensitive laboratory research or equipment to review this information and take any precautions.
The document illustrates how a loss of power supply could produce effects on building cooling systems on the main campus equivalent to a Stage 3 or Stage 4 Chilled Water Curtailment, depending on the amount of advance notice we receive. Some campus facilities would retain power and cooling to support life safety and critical operations. The document also provides tips for preparing for such a scenario. In the event of an extended outage, Residential & Dining Enterprises also has contingency plans to continue providing meal service for students and to support students living in campus housing.
Again, we are hopeful that it will not be necessary to act on this information, but we provide it in case it is. We will continue to keep you informed of any developments as they arise.
I am grateful to the many people across our university who are working tirelessly to support our students, faculty, staff and postdocs through the multiple challenges of these days. Thank you for all you are doing for Stanford, and for the care and concern you are extending to one another.
Wildfire smoke: Take precautions; Dish closed
Wildfire smoke continues to be present in the area around Stanford today. As posted by airnow.gov, the nearest official reporting station in Redwood City had an Air Quality Index reading of 164 this morning, which is in the lower end of the Unhealthy range.
We do not have a forecast for the coming days, though smoke is likely to persist in the area at variable rates. Numerous wildfires are currently burning in the Bay Area, the closest to Stanford being a series of fires in southern San Mateo County and northern Santa Cruz County collectively named the “CZU August Lightning Complex” fires.
We know the high heat, smoke and continuing effects of the pandemic together pose additional challenges for members of our community. We offer the following information:
HEALTH GUIDANCE: The airnow.gov website provides recommendations on steps you should take at different Air Quality Index readings. In the “Unhealthy” range, sensitive groups are advised to avoid prolonged or heavy exertion, and to consider moving activities indoors or rescheduling them. Everyone else is encouraged to reduce prolonged or heavy exertion and to take more breaks during outdoor activities.
STUDENTS ON CAMPUS: In general, please consider staying indoors to the greatest extent possible due to the heat and smoke. Drink plenty of water. Contact Vaden Health Services if you have a health condition that needs attention due to the heat and smoke.
EH&S INFORMATION: Tips and training related to wildfire smoke are available from Stanford Environmental Health & Safety at https://ehs.stanford.edu/topic/general-workplace-safety/protection-from-wildfire-smoke. Supervisors should consult this information to provide for the needs of employees during a wildfire smoke event.
DISH CLOSURE: Due to the poor air quality, the Dish Area is being closed until at least 3 p.m. today. Conditions will be reassessed at that time. Updates will be provided at dish.stanford.edu.
As always, it is recommended that those who may be particularly sensitive to smoke consult their medical provider if needed during a wildfire smoke event. Updates on any changes in the current smoke event will be provided on emergency.stanford.edu.
Update on power outage
Power has been restored to all buildings affected by the outage earlier this morning except for the Fairchild Science Building. The cause of the outage has been determined to be the failure of a transformer at Fairchild. That building will be without normal power at least through this evening as repairs are determined and implemented. Fairchild emergency generators will remain operating until normal power is restored.
Power outage affecting several campus buildings
A power outage is affecting several buildings on the west side of the main Stanford campus.
Affected buildings are listed below. University teams have responded and the cause of the outage is being investigated. Building occupants should plan for a disruption of at least 4 hours.
Some affected buildings have emergency backup power, but not all circuits within a building may have it, and there may be impacts to building cooling. No impacts are expected to campus IT services.
Affected buildings are:
Fairchild Science Building
Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge
West Electronic Communication Hub
Nora Suppes Hall Annex
SRAF Comparative Medicine
Northwest Data Center
Central Process Steam Plant
Update on potential for rotating power outages
PG&E reported today (Monday, August 17) that rotating power outages are likely to occur in California this afternoon and evening due to continued hot weather. The Stanford community is encouraged to help conserve energy and to make any preparations needed in the event of a power outage.
Rotating outages can be ordered by the California Independent System Operator (California ISO) and implemented by utilities including PG&E based on the available power supply in the state. Due to extreme heat and high demand that may be greater than supply, California ISO may require PG&E to turn off power in rotating outages between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. each day August 17-20.
Rotating outages typically last 1-2 hours. The customers specifically affected by an outage will not receive advance notice.
If a power outage affects one of Stanford’s campuses, the university’s ability to supply chilled water to cool campus buildings will cease. Loads not served by emergency power during the event, such as research activities, will be impacted.
Please take any necessary precautions to prepare for a possible power and chilled water outage, protect critical equipment, and take steps to conserve energy to help reduce the load on the state’s power grid.
Information and energy conservation tips from PG&E: https://www.pge.com/en_US/residential/outages/planning-and-preparedness/safety-and-preparedness/keep-power-on.page
Ongoing updates from PG&E: https://twitter.com/PGE4Me