Upgrading and Maintaining BCIT’s Electrical Systems

A campus as large as BCIT’s Burnaby campus requires lots of power. BCIT’s electrical team in Facilities and Campus Development is responsible for making sure the system that delivers power from the grid to BCIT’s buildings operates efficiently to meet the growing needs of the campus community.

The Electrical Receiving Station on Goard Way is the heart of our campus electrical system. Each of the futuristic looking cells contains a High Voltage Vacuum circuit breaker that delivers power to several substations located around the campus that serve the buildings.

Testing modular circuit breakers at Goard Way

They are currently supplied by 12.5 kV but last weekend the system supplying the North part of the campus was upgraded to 25kV Volts as part of upgrades by BC Hydro. The 25kV volt system will allow BCIT to draw power from the grid more efficiently,

At the other end of the system are the distribution circuit breakers that serve individual sections of all BCIT’s buildings and the team have also developed a testing program to make sure each of these components is functioning correctly.

Mike Mafatow, BCIT’s Electrical Manager explains: “Many of these circuit breakers are original to the buildings when they were built in the 1960’s, so testing and maintenance is extra valuable.

We’ve developed a MCCB (molded case circuit breaker) testing program of our distribution breakers to make sure each of these components is functioning correctly. There’s are many different types of circuit breakers around campus that range in voltages from 120 to 600 volts and in amperages from 200 to 3000 amps, that we’ will test to make sure we have a more reliable electrical system across the campus.”

Using specialized test equipment, the team inject a high current through the breakers to simulate an overload condition caused by a malfunctioning piece of equipment. They then compare the time it takes for the circuit to trip to the settings recommended by the manufacturer to ensure it is functioning properly.

Breakers that fall outside the parameters can then be replaced during regularly scheduled maintenance.


Mike continues: “The failure of a distribution breaker can lead to a power outage in a part of a building that might cause disruption to campus services. This testing supplements the existing annual high voltage maintenance program and allows us to identify problems before they occur which bolsters the integrity and reliability of the Campus electrical infrastructure.” 




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