Since the 1990s, we've had the chance to work on numerous projects with the Ohio Veteran's
Home (OVH) in Sandusky, Ohio. However, we recently got a chance to put our engineering to
the test. In order to accommodate a project implemented by the Ohio Department of
Transportation (ODOT), a shutdown lasting four days (Dec. 18-22, 2020) was needed, which
meant OVH needed to utilize its backup generators for an extended period of time. The
shutdown and power switch required close monitoring and attention, so Tec Inc.’s Executive
Vice President and Director of Engineering, Tim Pool, PE, RCDD, spent four days continuously on-call at the facility. During the power shutdown, his regular attendance at the facility was part of a “very choreographed” effort, one that ensured the Veteran’s Home would never lose power.
Adding to the equation, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was on-site at OVH on the first day of the
power transfer on December 18, 2020. On that day, he addressed the State of Ohio onsight from the veteran’s home on the day when the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered to
nursing home residents.
The project called for the expansion of the roadway near the facility. ODOT required the
movement of the 69,000-volt powerlines that provide OVH with their electrical power. With the
building occupying our nation’s veterans, who are in need of care from the facility, it added a
heightened level of attention to detail from the team to ensure their comfort and safety.
Tec Inc. first designed the pair of generators on-site at OVH in 1994, acting as the engineers of
record (EOR) for the generators serving the entire facility. While it was earlier in his career, Tim
played a key role in that project and received the opportunity to check his work 26 years later.
These generators ensure the residents of OVH are safe in the event of any power outages,
which is important for those who require electricity for life-sustaining medical devices or treatments. It also allows for electrical maintenance and upgrades that require a power-down of the main systems.
The high-profile day called for a high-level of preparation. Ahead of the power switch, the team
conducted an assessment and test of the existing generator units. This assessment determined the facility’s need to contract a team to polish the gasoline in the 10,000-gallon tank containing
diesel fuel under the generator plant.
However, things went slightly astray when the generator’s filters clogged at a faster rate than expected, thus causing high fuel pressure to shut down the generators. After a sleepless first night for Mr. Pool and through a series of phone calls with the facility manager and generator service technician, the team determined that alternating the generators every eight hours and changing the primary fuel filters allowed them to keep the facility’s electricity running without risk of a generator shutdown.
After the team found a solution to the problem, the rest of their weekend at the facility went without a hiccup, and then the return of the 69,000-volt power line to the Ohio Veteran’s Home concluded their successful effort at the veteran’s home. Thanks to exceptional service from the generator service technician and expert direction from the OVH facility manager, the Ohio Veterans Home never lost power during the entire power shutdown.
In conversation, Mr. Pool noted the importance of facilities having a good maintenance program which includes keeping items like the fuel and filters cleaned or changed at least once a year. This helps ensure that nothing goes astray when situations arise where it’s necessary to employ an emergency generator.
This occasion highlighted the importance of assessing the conditions of backup power supplies.
Though facilities often count on their typical power sources to carry them through challenges,
it’s crucial to examine the conditions of their generators, both in case of emergency and in case
of routine maintenance. However, it’s also crucial to have an engineer assess a generator’s condition regularly and before any planned extended power outage. This can have a huge impact on a facility’s ability to keep its occupants safe through a power outage.