The bad news: energy woes at Barcroft

September 2006

The summers of 2005 and 2006 highlighted the need for reliable on-site energy generation, as well as creating an extremely difficult situation for construction and installation of the project's first phases. The 12 KV transformer at the Observatory dome burnt out in the summer of 2005. Replacement with a ground-mounted unit took over a year owing to access and other problems. The 12 KV power lines (supplying Barcroft with all its energy needs including heating) went down during a storm in January 2006. The above-ground lines to Crooked Creek were relatively simple to repair, but the buried line break was not fully repaired until August 2006. Owing to this failure, we started up up in June at Barcroft with the 50-year-old diesel generator. It ran faithfully for 6 weeks, until a lightning storm created a local surge that blew out the voltage regulator on the generator. We immediately brought up a rental generator at great expense, which ran until the buried power line was repaired. This situation maintained until September, when, for as yet undiagnosed reasons, the buried line blew out again, this time destroying the new transformer just installed at the observatory dome. The old diesel generator could not be repaired (no parts available) so we brought up another rental, which is currently running the station now. We are currently trying to purchase a trailer-mounted diesel generator to leave up at barcroft this winter, so we can bring the rental unit down and not get it stuck up there when the snow flies. We'll need a generator this spring when it is time to open Barcroft up. The not-so-bad news is that we were able to sustain most operations this summer, with the notable exception of the astrophysics projects.