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News & Notes: Due to extreme cold weather, U. switches to burning oil

The Princeton Energy Plant, which produces chilled water and electricity for most of the central campus, has switched to burning oil during the past few days, as much of the Northeast and Midwest of the U.S. have seen extremely cold temperatures. The plant usually burns natural gas.

This is part of an arrangement by state utility company PSE&G to have large consumers like the University switch to oil consumption at times when the utility company expects to see unusually high demand for energy, in order to help PSE&G ensure there will be enough natural gas for all its customers. For its participation in this program, the University receives more favorable rates for natural gas throughout the year, University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua said.

During times of extreme cold like the past few days, the University’s Facilities department provides additional protection for equipment that is exposed to the outside air, such as by inspecting piping and coils.

The Facilities department has also extended the hours of coverage for control system operators who monitor the system and identify any issues that arise. While the systems are already monitored 24 hours a day, the system is enhanced by the presence of additional staff members.

The staff that manages the University’s plumbing, grounds and heating systems have also increased their coverage, sending staff members around campus to inspect areas where sensitive equipment may be exposed to the elements.

Correction: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this article misstated protection measures against extreme cold weather. The University’s Facilities department inspects piping and coils separately. The ‘Prince’ regrets the error.

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