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Regents approve electrical upgrades

The University of Alaska Board of Regents this week approved the next
phase of critical electrical upgrades at the Fairbanks campus--an
ongoing project that improves a number of issues with the 50-year-old
distribution system.

The project’s second phase, at $24.2 million, is funded by a mixture
of previously approved bonding as well as deferred maintenance money
Gov. Sean Parnell has included in his FY13 capital budget. The project
includes improvements to the voltage distribution system at UAF such
as replacing aged transformers, installing a high-voltage cable and
underground storage to house new high-voltage switches. All of the
improvements will be compatible with a replacement heat and power
plant in the future.

The first phase, which is nearing completion, included moving the main
electrical switching gear out of the heat and power plant, upgrading
the connection to the electrical grid and increasing the system’s
voltage and distribution capacity. All of the changes follow a plan
mapped out after a near failure of the plant in the late 1990s, which
made it clear the electrical switches must be moved out of the main
building in the event of a steam leak.

The board also approved a certificate in baking and pastry arts, a
reconfiguration of an earlier certificate in culinary arts that
featured one of three concentrations: culinary arts, baking and pastry
and cooking. The UAF faculty recommended eliminating the
concentrations, leaving a single certificate in culinary arts. A
student now interested in such skills will be able to earn a
certificate in either culinary arts or baking and pastry. The training
earned through the certificate program would apply directly toward a
two-year associate degree if the student desires to continue with
their education.

Board members attended a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday evening to
celebrate recently completed test labs for UAF’s Alaska Center for
Energy and Power. ACEP is a four-year old entity that has already
secured $18 million in externally funded energy research projects
involving numerous private and public partners across the state. The
new facility, located next to the heat and power plant, houses three
established test beds for energy projects, including a hybrid
application laboratory, a diesel engine test lab and a hydrokinetic
energy research bay. Speakers at the ceremony included Chancellor
Brian Rogers, Board Chair Pat Jacobson of Kodiak, Sen. Lesil McGuire
of Anchorage, Doug Johnson of Ocean Renewable Power Co., David Lockard
of the Alaska Energy Authority and ACEP Director Gwen Holdmann. The
event was well attended by numerous UA researchers, elected officials,
business owners and students—an indication of the high interest in
collaborative energy research.

In other business, board members elected Regent Carl Marrs of
Anchorage as the new vice-chair of the board, following the
resignation of Regent Bob Martin of Juneau due to health reasons.
Martin, a UAF alumnus, was beginning the last year of his eight-year
term on the board. He recently notified the governor and UA officials
that he feels he must step down. Gov. Parnell will appoint a new
regent to fill out Martin’s term. Many regents spoke highly of
Martin’s contributions to the University of Alaska, the Southeast
Alaska region and the state as a whole.

Another agenda item included resolutions of appreciation for two
longtime UA System staffers, Pat Ivey and Jeannie Phillips. Ivey is
retiring after more than 36 years and Phillips has moved to a
part-time position at UAF after 21 years at the System Office.

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