Lights, air conditioning and all power failed across campus and part of Muncie due to a problem with cables from Ball State’s electricity supplier, American Electric Power. The cables leading to the Johnson West substation caused the malfunction on Monday. Grace Ramey // DN File
Campus power outage caused by cable malfunction
At 1:22 p.m. Monday, Ball State’s campus went dark.
Lights, air conditioning and all power failed across campus and part of Muncie due to a problem with cables from Ball State’s electricity supplier, American Electric Power.
“At this time, we are still assessing the damage,” said Jim Lowe, Ball State's associate vice president for facilities planning and management. “We don’t know if the cable melted, blew up or if it overheated. But, it caused a fault and shut a substation offline.”
A substation is a set of equipment which reduces electrical power to a voltage suitable to use in campus buildings.
There are two substations located on campus—one by Johnson West, the other located next to University Avenue near Ball State's West Quad.
The cables leading to the Johnson West substation caused the malfunction on Monday, Lowe said. This substation powers all buildings north of Riverside Avenue.
“It took probably 30 to 60 minutes for AEP to determine what was wrong with the problem,” Lowe said. “So, we started switching buildings on to the south substation so that they would regain power.”
The team was able to restore power to all buildings except Johnson West and the Alumni Center.
After AEP determined the problem, university facility teams began switching building electricity back to the original substations. Power was restored to all of campus at 7:43 p.m., according to a text sent by the Ball State alert system.
AEP approximated that 2,500 customers were left without power.
During the outages, at least 24 campus buildings, including seven residence hall complexes, were affected at various times.
Lights, air conditioning units and multiple traffic lights were powerless as well. Various classes were cancelled as a result of the power outage.
“To be honest, I didn’t know what was happening,” said freshman fine arts major Cat Teague. “I just kept thinking, ‘It’s the day of the eclipse, the power just went out and Bracken Library is supposedly on fire. The apocalypse is coming.’”
Lowe said the power outage could have come at a worse time.
“I don’t know if it was the best or the worst time for it to happen,” Lowe said. “It was the first day of classes, and around the time of the solar eclipse, so most students were outside anyway.”