UO testing Eugene campus backup power on Aug. 7

The University of Oregon’s Campus Planning and Facilities Management is planning for annual backup power testing that will affect the main Eugene campus on Wednesday, Aug. 7. Testing begins at 8 a.m. and is scheduled to end at 3 p.m. The testing schedule and the latest information can be found on the Utilities and Energy website

A successful test will pass unnoticed by people and sensitive equipment. 

If issues arise, facilities may experience anything from a brief flicker to a 10-second power outage. Organizers are working throughout campus to minimize impacts to classroom technology, servers and sensitive lab equipment. 

This year, there will also be building-level tests. In four buildings, power will be shut off for up to 90 minutes:

  • Ford Alumni Center
  • Many Nations Longhouse
  • Deschutes Hall
  • Campus Planning and Facilities Management Headquarters

Facility managers in those buildings have been notified and are working with staff to minimize impacts to productivity. Supervisors should consider alternative timelines and actions for critical tasks that can be delayed while the testing takes place. Employees who normally work on campus may consult with their supervisors to determine if they should work remotely during the testing.

Before testing begins, Information Services recommends unplugging sensitive electronics in campus work areas — such as printers, copiers and sensitive research equipment — in case power outages do occur.

During the testing, any power outages—even brief ones—will cause network outages affecting the wired and wireless networks on the Eugene campus. However, the university's virtual private network services, including UO VPN, should remain available throughout the testing.

Employees can help the campus prepare by spreading the word and marking the date on a calendar with a reminder to take appropriate action in each office space. 

People with special events or activities planned for Aug. 7 should call 541-346-2319 to discuss needs.

The Office of Utilities and Energy, Information Services, Research and Innovation, Safety and Risk Services, and other departments are all working to limit impacts throughout the day.

What is island mode testing?

Under normal conditions, the UO gets electricity from EWEB. However, UO can disconnect from the grid and supply 100 percent of campus power demand via its own generators. “Islanding” is the process of severing the connection to EWEB while simultaneously connecting to UO generators without measurable power disruption. Annual testing of this capability is designed to identify equipment and programming problems that would otherwise remain unknown to utility electricians. Maintaining a reliable backup power supply is an essential component in supporting the UO academic and research mission.