Haley VA Hospital


Standby Power System at Florida VA Hospital Covers All Electrical Loads

Few if any hospitals have a better power system than the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Florida, thanks to its recently renovated power plant.  Completed at a cost of $47 million, it includes SCADA and a backup system capable of covering all electrical loads for 120 hours (without refueling) in the event of an outage.

A teaching hospital affiliated with the adjacent University of South Florida College of Medicine, Haley Hospital provides a full range of patient services with state-of-the-art technology and research.  It has 548 beds, plus another 118 beds in an on-site long-term care and rehabilitation facility — the Haley’s Cove Community Living Center.  The busiest of four U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) polytrauma facilities in the nation, Haley serves a four-county area in which it also runs four outpatient clinics.

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the VA called for bids to upgrade emergency/backup power systems at VA hospitals in hurricane zones — upgrades that could ensure continuous air conditioning, not just the operation of life-safety and other critical equipment.

For Haley Hospital, the winning bid for power control switchgear, transfer switches, and SCADA was from Russelectric®, based in Hingham, Massachusetts.  Russelectric® designs, builds, commissions, and services on-site power control systems for hospitals, data centers, Internet service providers, airports, and other mission-critical facilities.  Systems can provide sophisticated control functions such as emergency/standby power, peak shaving, load curtailment, utility paralleling, cogeneration, and prime power.  All Russelectric® systems are supported by the company’s factory-direct, 24-hour field service.

Extra Layer of Confidence

The hospital’s administration is pleased with the new power system, which provides many more capabilities than the previous system.  Although there has not been an unexpected utility outage since the system became fully operational in May 2010, Byron Taylor, the hospital’s Lead Power Plant Operator, appreciates the extra layer of confidence.  At Taylor’s side to oversee the system, as they were throughout the planning and installation process, are Engine Technician Kyle Graley and Electrical Shop Supervisor Bill Hagen.

“We’ve had some storms come through, and it has been really nice because we do not have to worry,” says Taylor.  “One time, we saw the storms coming and TECO [Tampa Electric Company] asked us to drop off the grid.  We fired up our generators, and we operated on our own power for 17 hours, while TECO concentrated on restoring power to its residential customers.  That sort of thing has happened several other times for shorter periods, and there has never been a problem.”

Hagen particularly appreciates the quality of the power from the backup system.  “We get more blips from TECO than we do from our system,” he quips.  “It is exceptionally smooth.”

The hospital’s former backup power system included nine on-site generators, yet it could only cover life-safety loads — 45% of the hospital’s total load — in the event of a utility outage.  Hagen has no fond memories for the old system, which he calls “a major headache,” least of all for the system’s dynamic matrix control.  “We had nothing but problems with it,” he recalls.  “We never got it to work in parallel.  It couldn’t even generate a monthly testing report.”

In contrast, the new backup system covers everything — every load for nine buildings, 15 trailers that make up an on-campus clinic, and a parking garage — with just seven new 13,200-VAC Caterpillar diesel generators.  Supplied by Ring Power, the generators produce 2,200 kW each.

Another improvement is the hospital’s renovated fuel system.  The former system had a capacity of 22,000 gallons, and the storage tanks were spread out over several locations.  Today, a new tank farm has four 12,000-gallon tanks.  With another 6,000-gallon tank under each generator, the system has a capacity of 90,000 gallons.

Still more improvements are in the works.  As of now, Haley Hospital receives no rebates or preferred rates from Tampa Electric Company, and the agreement between the entities does not allow the hospital to feed power back to the grid.  But that agreement could change someday.  On the roof of a parking garage, the hospital will be installing photovoltaic cells expected to generate another 500 kW of power.  Newly installed solar panels in the adjacent parking lot near the long-term care facility (Haley’s Cove) will supplement that building’s utility feed by up to 500 kW, so the new cells will boost Haley’s photoelectric output to a total of 1 MW, enough to illuminate two parking lots.  Although feeds from the solar panels are lost when the hospital’s generators take over, under everyday conditions the new panels might provide surplus power that would enable the hospital to sell some power back to TECO.  A peak-shaving arrangement with the utility is also likely in the near future, according to Taylor.

The Power of Information

Also very important to the power control system upgrade is the new state-of-the-art Russelectric® SCADA system, which includes software and screen displays that Russelectric® customized for the hospital’s needs.  It provides interactive monitoring, real-time and historical trending, distributed networking, alarm management, and comprehensive reports around the clock for every detail of the entire power system, not just for the backup components.

In addition to monitoring power quality, the SCADA system’s many functions include continuous monitoring of fuel consumption by each generator and the level of fuel in every tank.  With Russelectric® SCADA, an operator can easily monitor and control a facility’s entire power system using full-color “point and click” interactive computer-screen displays at the system console.  For example, the operator can access and change the system’s PLC setpoints, display any of the analog or digital readouts on switchgear front panels, run a system test, or view the alarm history.  A dynamic one-line diagram display uses color to indicate the status of the entire power system, including the positions of all power switching devices.  Operating parameters are displayed and updated in real time; flashing lights on the switchgear annunciator panel also flash on the SCADA screen.  Event logging, alarm locking, and help screens are standard.

“The SCADA is so sensitive that it detects and explains even the slightest anomaly, including those in the utility feed,” says Taylor.  “A number of times we’ve called TECO because we saw something happening, and they had no idea they even had a problem yet!  The stuff the system does is phenomenal.  It gives us more data than we ever need for an average day, but it’s tremendous that we have it when we do need it.”

Freedom to Test the System

In accordance with state and federal regulations, the backup generators are tested every month.  Thanks to the new system’s capability for closed-transition transfer, the tests inconvenience no one.  Because there is no interference with hospital loads, there is no “blip” (power interruption).

The system gives Taylor and Graley the luxury of carrying out the tests in two different ways.  They can parallel the output of all seven generators to the utility feed, or they can test one generator at a time, up to its full output, by way of a special 2-MW load bank that has an independent control panel.  Testing can be initiated manually or through SCADA.

“It’s so much easier now,” says Hagen.  “We’ll never again have to pay a testing firm to come out and test an engine to make sure it meets all the requirements.”

Unlike most hospitals, Haley has the luxury of four utility feeds.  On a normal day, it draws from two of these (primary) feeds.  This means that, except for testing, Haley does not have to start its generators until it loses three or more utility feeds.
With advance notice from the utility that an outage is likely, Haley’s power plant personnel can now parallel the utility feeds with their own generators, then switch to on-site power seamlessly (closed-transition transfer).  But if there is an unexpected outage (and when the automatic transfer switches are tested), there will be a “blip” of 1 to 10 seconds, depending on the load.  For life-safety and other critical loads, the “blip” is only 1 to 3 seconds.  “Blips” for other loads are adjustable; most are set for 8-10 seconds.

Technical Support

Taylor and Hagen have high praise for Russelectric®’s field support services.  They recall working hand-in-hand with Jim Bourgoin, Russelectric®’s local Field Service Engineer, for seven months.

“During installation, Jim helped the contractors interpret the design whenever they were puzzled,” Hagen says.  “Afterwards, he stuck around to help us get things up and running.  It took a lot just to understand everything this system can do.  I already had a background in this, but it took quite a bit of training to really get up to speed.”

Taylor recalls, “There has not been one time when I have called Jim for an alarm or with questions about the system — whether at midnight or later — that he didn’t answer the phone and help me.  And on two occasions, he drove here at 3 or 4 in the morning to correct something that had gone wrong.  But it’s not just his responsiveness that’s impressed us.  The service he provides is exceptional, and it has been that way since day one.  To me, that’s worth just as much as the system itself.”

Taylor adds that Tom Crider, the local Russelectric® sales representative, was also deeply involved throughout the project, answering questions, facilitating the installation, and training Taylor’s staff.  Recently, with Taylor’s cooperation, Crider has led personnel from two other Tampa hospitals on tours of Haley’s power system.  One of those hospitals is installing a similar system.  The other is considering such an installation.

Onward and Upward

The fact that the system is designed to allow for modifications as the hospital continues to grow has Taylor thinking.  “With this new power system, we have seen what is possible,” he notes.  “It provides us with the information we need to analyze our power usage and consider new possibilities — opportunities we never would have considered before.”

5 Key Perspectives in Data Center Energy Savings


Building Operating Management, May 2013 —

This event will provide the following learning objectives:

  • Understand the primary sources of energy consumption in a data center
  • Review the role of IT equipment in heat generation
  • Learn about air and water economization options
  • Discuss the benefits of commissioning for optimal data center operations

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Critical Power – Standby Power for Mission Critical Facilities


Consulting-Specifying Engineer, May 2013 (Archived) — Mission critical standby systems provide power to critical operations power systems (COPS) for public safety, national security, or business continuity reasons. Electrical equipment and wiring that serve these designated critical operation areas must remain operational during a natural or man-made disaster. The National Electrical Code (NEC) describes the engineering practices for mission critical facilities, which go beyond the requirements for emergency and legally required standby systems. In addition to specific code requirements, design engineers as well as authorities having jurisdiction must know the requirements for the installation, operation, control, and maintenance of standby power for mission critical facilities.

Learning objectives:

  • The audience will understand the requirements of NFPA 70: National Electrical Code, Article 708 a it applies to mission critical facilities.
  • Attendees will learn the criteria for designating a facility as mission critical
  • Viewers will understand the criteria for identifying the reliability requirements of mission critical facility standby power systems.
  • Viewers will learn the criteria for commissioning mission critical facility standby power systems.


Kenneth Kutsmeda, PE, LEED AP, engineering design principal, KlingStubbins, Philadelphia

  • Kenneth Kutsmeda is an engineering design principal at KlingStubbins in Philadelphia. For more than 18 years, he has been responsible for engineering, designing, and commissioning power distribution systems for mission critical facilities. His project experience includes data centers, specialized research and development buildings, and large-scale technology facilities containing medium-voltage distribution.

Danna Jensen, PE, LEED AP BD+C, associate principal, ccrd partners, Dallas

  • Danna Jensen has 12 years of experience at ccrd in Dallas, where she became associate principal in 2012. Most of her work consists of designing electrical distribution for hospitals. She also designs electrical systems for office and retail facilities. She is the project manager for major hospital projects, which includes knowledge of all mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), and fire protection systems, as well as commissioning. Jensen was a 2009 Consulting-Specifying Engineer 40 Under 40 winner and is a member of the Consulting-Specifying Engineer Editorial Advisory Board.

Moderator: Jack Smith, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, Pure Power, and CFE Media LLC

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Critical Power – What’s New in Electrical Engineering: Smart Grid and Transformers


Consulting-Specifying Engineer, November 2012 (Archived) — The continually evolving Smart Grid is becoming an automated, widely distributed power delivery network characterized by a two-way flow of electricity and information. As the Smart Grid grows, new technologies emerge that enable concepts to become reality. However, transformers are one of the Smart Grid’s weak spots because few of them have the ability to sense critical parameters such as voltage, current, and temperature; and few of them have communication capabilities. Transformers purchased today will likely be in service for more than 25 years and may not include the monitoring and communication capabilities that could be required within the next five years. Consulting and design engineers should be aware of the rapidly changing Smart Grid landscape and how it affects them and their clients.

Learning objectives:

  • The audience will how transformer technology is changing to facilitate bidirectional power flow in the Smart Grid.
  • Attendees will learn about solid-state transformers and their potential effects on Smart Grid operations.
  • Viewers will understand how utility infrastructure will need to change to accommodate solid-state transformers and bidirectional power flow.
  • Viewers will learn how monitoring of distribution transformer loading will affect the future Smart Grid.


  • Sam Sciacca, president, SCS Consulting, Winsted, Conn. — Sam Sciacca is an active senior member in the IEEE and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in the area of utility automation. He has more than 25 years of experience in the domestic and international electrical utility industries. Sciacca serves as the chair of two IEEE working groups that focus on cyber security for electric utilities: the Substations Working Group C1 (P1686) and the Power System Relay Committee Working Group H13 (PC37.240). Sciacca also is president of SCS Consulting.
  • Chris Edward, electrical engineer, KJWW Engineering Consultants, Warrenville, Ill. — Edward is an electrical engineer at KJWW and has created designs for multiple renewable energy installations. He is a graduate of Purdue University and has served as an executive committee member for the Iowa/Illinois section of IEEE.

Jack Smith, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, Pure Power, and CFE Media, LLC

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Boosting Data Center Efficiency


Building Operating Management, May 2012 (Archived) — Data center energy efficiency is a critical issue for facility managers today. With energy consumption sky high, and with some data centers facing energy cost increases due to looming deregulation, top management is looking to facility managers to find ways to rein in data center energy use. What’s more, energy efficiency is a key to reducing the environmental footprint of data centers – another key priority for many organizations.

Fortunately, there are many proven steps that facility managers can take to reduce energy use without jeopardizing data center reliability. At the heart of these strategies are measures to optimize the performance of mechanical systems. Data centers have a voracious appetite for cooling, but facility managers can take actions that will help control cooling costs. These steps are recommended by experts in the industry as best practices for facility managers responsible for data centers today.

This webcast will offer insights into optimizing data center cooling plant performance — and saving on energy costs in the process. In addition, the presentation will include a review of revised energy efficiency standards for critical data centers, and how to apply them.

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Making Data Centers Green and Reliable


Building Operating Management, April 2011 (Archived) — This webcast provides not only an overview of the necessary considerations in developing high-availability– and green — facility infrastructures, but also addresses the role of short- and long-term sustainability planning and its impact upon data center financial liabilities. Learn about emerging trends, options and alternatives in data center development, and get updated information regarding LEED requirements as well as local, regional and national regulations that will affect the future of data center design, construction and operations.

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Key takeaways from this webcast include:
* Identifying data center green initiatives
* Understanding reliability vs. redundancy vs. uptime
* Clarifying the role of LEED in data centers
* Learning the cost impacts and trends in greening data centers

Power Gen International

December 13-15, 2011

Las Vegas, NV

Read more

Centers and the Smart Grid

Thursday, February 3, 2011
1:00 PM, Central Standard Time

The emergence of the smart grid will have three substantial impacts on data centers. One will be the need for more data centers to support the massive amounts of information and data processing that the smart grid will engender for utilities, energy service providers, and marketers. The second will be how data centers themselves interact with the smart grid as loads responding to grid conditions, microgrids, and demand-response programs without compromising mission-critical cooling and operations. The third will be a boost in efforts and incentives to increase the energy efficiency of data center facilities and equipment.

This Webcast will provide an overview of the smart grid’s anticipated information architecture and how data centers could interact with the smart grid through automated demand response, microgrids, and virtual power plants. Also covered will be an update on public/private efforts to improve the energy efficiency of data centers.

This Webcast is free and one (1) AIA learning unit (0.1 CEU) (or 1 PDH) will be provided upon successful completion of exam following the Webcast.

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Putnam Investments



When you are responsible for superior service for more than 10 million shareholders and 172 institutional clients, you can’t afford to blink.  With more than 3500 employees and six computerized service centers in Massachusetts, London, and Tokyo, Putnam Investments has invested in emergency/backup power systems for all its facilities to assure continuity of service to its customers.

Putnam is one of the largest money-management companies in the world, offering mutual funds retirement plans, college savings plans, insurance products and institutional portfolios.

As the company grew in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Putnam learned about the differences in backup power systems firsthand.  Chronically malfunctioning switchgear installed in 1986 at the company’s first data center led management to reconsider its choice of equipment when planning the emergency/backup system for its headquarters in Boston’s Post Office Square.  Installed in 1990, this new system included a single Caterpillar 800 kW generator and three open-transition automatic transfer switches manufactured by Russelectric® Inc. in nearby Hingham, Massachusetts.

These equipment changes were the result of a scoping process in which Putnam executives and S.B. Sager Associates, the system designer, investigated not only the equipment but also the capabilities, reputation, and performance history of various system suppliers.

“Russelectric® was one of three firms we looked at,” says Barry Mosher, Putnam’s Project Engineering Manager.  “We knew what we wanted the equipment to do, and we compared the failure histories, service records, and so on.  Russelectric® seemed the best choice; there was no question about it.”

Russelectric® designs, builds, commissions, and services switchgear and power control systems for hospitals, data centers, ISPs, airports, and other critical facilities.  Systems can provide sophisticated control functions such as emergency/standby power using either open-transition transfer or live-source, closed-transition transfer; cogeneration; prime power; peak shaving; load curtailment; uninterruptible power; and utility paralleling.

Russelectric® also supports its customers with 7 x 24 field service.  Mosher had heard about this, but in 1991 when one of his transfer switches developed a problem, Russelectric®’s response made him a true believer.

“I had to shut the building down that weekend,” he recalls.  “If I couldn’t fix the switch, we’d be out of business.  I called the [Russelectric®] toll-free field service number and was told the engineer in charge would be paged.  He called back a few minutes later from his daughter’s wedding!  He understood the jam I was in and said he would be there in about half an hour.  He was still in his tuxedo when he showed up.  He quickly fixed the switch and checked the other switches.  I was so impressed!  And I never even got a bill.  That day I learned firsthand that if there is ever a problem, Russelectric® will fix it and fix it right.”

With the growth of the financial industry in the 1990s came the realization that a power outage could badly hurt business.  Putnam’s concerns included more than inconvenienced customers and reduced employee productivity.  The company was concerned about the outright loss of electronic data as well as its ability to conduct routine daily tasks.  Large numbers of checks and statements have to be processed on time.  Other documents and publications have to be printed and mailed on schedule.  Putnam sells all its retail funds through financial advisors, so there are large numbers of inbound calls and e-mail messages from shareholders, financial advisors, and banks in addition to outbound communications from Putnam’s marketing and support staff.

To keep up with its rapid growth, Putnam built new facilities in three Boston suburbs, including Franklin and Andover, between 1994 and 2000.  Designed for each building and installed during construction, a 3000 kW backup power system includes three Caterpillar generators and Russelectric® closed-transition paralleling switchgear.  The backup power system at Putnam’s headquarters was upgraded to 1500 kW and supplemented with a web-based monitoring system that captures data (even from the London and Tokyo facilities) for analysis later.

The Russelectric® power control systems in all four Putnam facilities have redundant programmable logic controllers (PLCs), which coordinate the systems and can switch a facility off the grid to generator power whenever there is a problem.  The controls constantly monitor the utility feed.

“Before we renovated each new building, we conducted a fresh scoping process,” Mosher explains.  “We weeded out the average vendors; we wanted the highest quality we could get.  We looked at competitors’ services, equipment, capabilities, and failure rates, and every time we went through this evaluation process, Russelectric® emerged as the leader — the best value for the dollar.”

In the event of an unforeseen power loss at any of the three suburban facilities, Russelectric® closed-transition switchgear will automatically start the generators, parallel their outputs, and pick up loads in order of priority.  While this entire process takes only about 20 seconds, that is still long enough for computers to “crash.”  With so much at stake, Putnam also invested in uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems to prevent even the slightest power blink.

Because data centers need absolutely pure power, Putnam is taking no chances.  The suburban power lines that feed these centers are strung between poles and are subject to damage from storms and motor vehicle accidents.  To smooth out any irregularities or anomalies in the power coming into its three suburban facilities, Putnam runs the utility feeds through its UPS systems.  This conditions the utility power and eliminates the damaging effects of harmonic distortion and brownouts.

As with the company’s disciplined scoping process, Putnam’s care is evident in its precautionary pre-storm transfer protocols.  Although the reliability of the utility feed to Putnam’s Franklin facility has since improved, from 1994 to 1999 it failed an average of 14 times per year, with outages averaging 2-3 hours each.  So today, whenever a thunderstorm, blizzard, or ice storm is predicted for the suburbs (4-5 times a year), maintenance personnel use the Russelectric® equipment to parallel the utility feed and the emergency generators and to transfer to emergency power before the storm hits.  Each system has enough fuel to run for 10-12 days if necessary.  In Boston, however, most power lines are underground, utility power is more reliable, and outages are rare, so such precautions are unnecessary.

Because the closed-transition system design transfers each facility’s loads seamlessly from utility feed to backup generators, Putnam can test the systems on a regular basis without the slightest impact on operations.  In addition to the pre-storm transfers, Putnam exercises each of its suburban systems twice a month, during a workday, for four hours.  Every quarter they test them for eight hours.  Neither customers nor employees ever notice these tests.

Under contract, Russelectric® takes care of routine maintenance on the Putnam facilities three times a year and trains Putnam employees in the use of the equipment.

“Russelectric®’s training is conducted by seasoned professionals,” says Mosher.  “But who would expect anything less?  When you tour their plant, you see that every employee takes pride in the Russelectric® name.  The customer is #1, and that comes across in their R&D, their service, and their overall attitude.”

Bassett Healthcare


Healthcare Network Offers Glimpse of the Future of Backup Power

Bassett Healthcare, based in Cooperstown, New York, is noteworthy not only for its top-quality patient care, but also for its self-sufficiency.  With more than 270 physicians on the payroll (an unusual closed-group practice), Bassett operates a teaching hospital, a research institute, and a network of regional clinics serving eight counties in upstate New York. All of its 24 facilities are protected by emergency backup power systems that go beyond the capabilities of most other hospitals — all using equipment designed and built by Russelectric® Inc.

In August of 2003, when a surge of electricity to western New York touched off a massive blackout affecting eight states in the Northeast, Midwest, and parts of Canada, Bassett was an island of light in a sea of darkness — up and running on its backup system.  The company’s “flagship,” the 180-bed Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in downtown Cooperstown, played a key role by feeding the community, accepting refrigerated vaccines from county offices that had lost power, and providing other services for competing healthcare institutions that didn’t have backup power.

Bassett is even more secure today, thanks to a 2004 upgrade/expansion that added generating capacity and more capabilities to its advanced emergency power system.  Much of the credit goes to Joe Middleton. Middleton, Bassett’s forward-thinking vice president for corporate support services and facilities planning, has a degree in electrical engineering and once taught at the university level.  His knowledge and experience helped him guide Bassett’s board of directors through some tough decisions and significant financial investments to the enviable position they find themselves in today.

“Power outages are common,” says Middleton.  “But it’s not just a reliability issue; it’s a matter of system redundancy – we’re in a rural area with a single electrical feed and no natural gas service, so it became necessary to create our own secondary power source.”

Although hospitals are required to have an emergency power system for critical loads, many are located in communities with a second source of normal power.  Some are even served by two electrical utilities.  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code sees this as the ideal, stating: “For the greatest assurance of continuity of electrical service, the normal source should consist of two separate full-capacity services, each independent of the other.” [NFPA 99 2005 ANNEX A.]

Bassett employs 2800 people, more than the population of Cooperstown, and sees about 1000 outpatients a day on top of regular admissions.  While management’s first concern is how to provide the best patient care, reliable backup power has a fiscal benefit as well.  Middleton estimates the loss of power for eight hours would amount to a revenue loss of $1,000,000.

Bassett isn’t taking any chances.  The default mode of the paralleling gear for their backup power system meets the requirements of the NFPA’s National Electrical Code (NEC), providing emergency power to loads that supply critical services for life safety plus the HVAC system and some other equipment – the typical hospital emergency power system.  However, that is only the beginning for Bassett’s system, which ensures that all elevators will also keep running and then, five minutes after the beginning of the outage, ramps up two additional generators to restore full power to the hospital and 15 other buildings.

In an operating room, for example, this can make a big difference.  The NEC says only a certain percentage of electrical receptacles (outlets) in an operating room (OR) must be on emergency power, not all of them.  “You can’t count on two hands the number of computerized devices in our cardiovascular OR,” says Middleton.  So at Bassett, five minutes after a power loss, not just the receptacles prescribed by code, but all receptacles are live again.  At that point, Bassett facilities are energy independent, generating all their own primary power.  The system can back-feed and feed around any fault on the campus.

But that’s not all.  Another backup system, entirely separate and distinct, ensures a continuous power feed to Bassett’s data center, which is also on the Cooperstown campus.  This system, which has its own redundancies, allows no power interruptions at all.  These days, the loss of computer access to patient drug histories, digital radiology films, and other electronic records would be a serious setback for doctors, nurses, and ultimately patients.

An advocate for the extra backup he brought about at Bassett, Middleton observes, “As healthcare technology becomes more and more sophisticated, concurrent with the increased focus on expense control, the continuous delivery of medical information is critical.  A reliable power system really needs to be a bottom-line calculation.  Unfortunately, most healthcare facilities have not realized this yet.”

In the 1980s Middleton worked for the Carle Foundation Hospital in Illinois.  When, as part of that hospital’s expansion program, management decided to consolidate and centralize their power distribution system and parallel their sources of emergency power, Middleton was involved in the selection process for the design, manufacture, and installation of the necessary switchgear.  Before long, one company — Russelectric® Inc. — stood out for both their products and service.

Based in Hingham, Massachusetts, Russelectric® designs, builds, commissions, and services power control systems for hospitals, data centers, Internet service providers, airports, and other mission-critical facilities.  Systems can provide sophisticated control functions such as emergency/standby power, peak shaving, load curtailment, utility paralleling, cogeneration, and prime power.  All systems are supported by the company’s factory-direct, 24-hour field service.

Impressed by Russelectric®’s post-installation support services as well as by the quality, reliability, capability, and adaptability of its equipment, Middleton recommended the company when he came to Bassett Healthcare in 1988.  Bassett made Russelectric® its sole-source supplier for emergency backup power equipment.  Nowadays, whenever Bassett decides to design a new system or modify an existing one, it invites Russelectric® to sit in on all planning sessions, beginning at the very start of the preliminary planning phase.

In 1990 and 1991, Bassett asked Russelectric® to design, build, and install switchgear synchronizing three 900 kW, 480 volt generator sets for the main campus in Cooperstown.  Upon loss of utility voltage, this system starts and synchronizes the three generator sets, and automatic transfer switches transfer the emergency load to the generator source.  Upon return of utility power, after a time delay to make sure the utility source is stable, the transfer switches re-transfer the emergency loads to the normal source.

Everything worked so well that years later, when it was time to upgrade/expand the system, there was no question who should do it.  “We stuck with Russelectric® because we needed reliability and flexibility of control,” says Middleton.

In 2004 Bassett upgraded the controls of the paralleling and transfer gear installed in 1990/91 and added two medium-voltage gensets (2 mW each) capable of generating 12.47 kV.  Installed on a primary bus, these are linked to and parallel with the three original gensets.  For an overview of the system, see Figure 1.

Russelectric<sup>®</sup> Drawing

Figure 1 – Bassett Healthcare’s emergency power system is programmed for two stages.  If the utility feed is lost, the Russelectric® switchgear transfers critical life/safety loads to three 480 volt generators.  Five minutes later, if the utility feed is still unavailable, two 12,470-volt generators kick in, restoring full power to the hospital and 15 other buildings.  When the outage is over, the system gradually retransfers power to the utility in the reverse order — first from the two larger generators, then from the three smaller ones.


With these upgrades, if the normal utility feed is not restored in five minutes, the Russelectric® equipment switches to the Bassett system as the primary power source (Figure 1).  Special controls in the paralleling switchgear and transfer switches lock the equipment in the emergency position so it doesn’t roll back to normal.  Then, when a tie breaker is closed, the system begins back-feeding through a 2000 kVA transformer (480 volts secondary, 12.47 kV primary) to generate enough primary power to feed the entire Cooperstown campus.

“In a sense, we’ve spoiled people,” says Middleton.  “Our employees have become accustomed to continuous full power; they become very anxious with any transient outages.  We’re seriously considering adjusting the timing circuit to reduce the delay from five minutes to just two minutes.”

When the normal supply voltage returns, the system, after a preset time delay, transfers all building loads, in the selected transition mode, back to the normal source.  Once initiated, the retransfer sequence occurs in two stages.  In the closed transition mode, the 12.47 kV generators synchronize with the utility power source, close the 12.47 kV utility breaker, transfer the load gradually to the utility source, and then open the 12.47 kV generator tie breaker.  Once the 12.47 kV generators have transferred their load, the switchgear controls allow the 480 V transfer switches to retransfer to their normal position.  The engines will continue to operate unloaded for a cool-down period.  All controls are then automatically reset, in readiness for the next operation.

The Russelectric® switchgear can also be programmed for baseload peak-shaving.  Thanks to a lucrative agreement between Bassett Healthcare and the regional power company, Bassett’s backup power system pays for itself over time.  An “interruptible power contract” gives the utility permission to drop Bassett from the regional electrical grid (with advance notice) during periods of peak demand.  In return, the utility pays Bassett, at a rate much higher than what Bassett pays for its normal feed, for every megawatt Bassett generates while off-line.

“It’s great for us,” says Middleton.  “We’re off the grid for a few hundred hours a year, mostly in the summertime, when the power we generate is of higher quality than what we get from the utility.  It’s rock-solid, with stable frequency and voltage.  But on the grid, with all the air-conditioning demands, we see large switching transients as new power sources are switched in and out.”  Bassett also has the capacity to export power to the grid, although they have never been asked to do so.

Middleton makes sure he has 45,000 gallons of less-polluting, low-sulfur oil stored on site for the generators.  The two largest generators consume 280 gallons an hour when operating — 6,720 gallons every 24 hours.  With the three older, smaller generators operating concurrently, Bassett could burn 8,000 to 10,000 gallons of oil a day just to power the main campus.  Due to improvements by the manufacturer (Caterpillar), Bassett’s two newest generators, the largest ones, produce fewer emissions together than one of the original generators purchased in 1990.  All of Bassett’s generators are rated and permitted for continuous use if necessary.

Today, in addition to the main facility, every Bassett clinic has its own Russelectric® automatic transfer switch for backup power.  Bassett maintains 30 generators in all.  “When you look at a Russelectric® transfer switch, you can see that the quality of the bussing, the control wires, the layout, etc. is dramatically better than that of competitors’ switches,” says Middleton.  He estimates that 16 Russelectric® transfer switches and one set of paralleling gear, all of which were installed almost 18 years ago, will last another 10 years.

“At Bassett, we look at utility infrastructure as the core support element for all our other initiatives,” Middleton explains.  “If the infrastructure is flexible, and adaptable, you can build on it.  But to do that, you need to partner with a company whose systems are adaptable and reliable, a company that is nimble and service-oriented.  Russelectric® is both.  We depend on Russelectric® field service for everything except routine daily maintenance.  When we have issues with our system that are beyond our local capabilities, no matter how complex, Russelectric® is there without delay — their service is timely and spot-on.”

“Russelectric® has been a true partner with us from day one,” Middleton continues.  “Their top-notch engineers have helped us through problems, creating unique solutions.  It’s been a great relationship.  Russelectric®’s focus is on the design and sale of industry-leading products, but they should sell their services too.  They are a talented, creative group of people, and they offer exceptional engineering capabilities and services.  After all, when you invest in a power control system you’re buying much more than gray boxes!”