Lone Star College will buy new generators to weather hurricanes

In an effort to prevent power interruptions from hurricanes and other storms, the Lone Star College System is set to spend as much as $890,000 on new generators.

While the winds from Hurricane Laura did not directly hit the Conroe area in August, its impact was felt when the storm interrupted energy service for thousands of customers in the area, including Lone Star College administration offices in The Woodlands.

At its November Board of Trustees meeting, the LSC board passed a resolution authorizing the negotiation of a contract for the installation of new natural gas generators, capping the cost of the potential contract at $890,000. While the sum may seem high, the job won’t just include the installation of the new generators.

Currently, the generators that are already installed are not connected, so when one fails the other is not an automatic backup. With the installation of the new generators, this will be corrected.

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When the generators failed after Hurricane Laura, the college system faced not just an energy problem, but an IT problem.

“We sustained significant damage to our IT,” chancellor Stephen Head said. “It was what we call a hard shutdown. We didn’t have any warning.”

The replacement of the generator was requested by the LSC Office of Technology Services because of the issues caused by the brownouts. After the storm, the college system had a hard time getting the old diesel generators repaired because of the high demand for generator repairs after the storm. The offices had to shut down for several days.

“When we go down like that and we’re closed, you’re not talking about just a few dollars that we lose and a lack of productivity,” Head said.

The disconnected generators are outdated technology and this project will address that, connecting the generators, and adding backups and redundancies. Earlier this year, an engineer was hired to begin the design and planning for the project.

“Options have been in discussion, an assessment was made, electrical peak demand loads confirmed and coordination with Center Point Energy was conducted,” Jennifer Mott, Lone Star College chief financial officer said in an email.

One of the new natural gas generators will become the main generator and will be located at the Lone Star Community Building.

“The new generator will provide backup power for the data center, LSC police dispatch call center as well as emergency power and lighting for the Lone Star Community Building, Woodlands Leadership Building, Star Building and the Training and Development Center,” Mott said. “In addition, the diesel generator at WLB will get a complete rebuilt overhaul. The generator will remain at existing location and become the back-up generator. There will be two different fuel sources, diesel and natural gas.”

The college system isn’t sure exactly how much the project will cost but have put it out to bid. Head said they have put the project out for bid now because there is a backlog right

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