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Schweitzer donates equipment to protect university system

PULLMAN – Washington State University is upgrading the electrical distribution system on its Pullman campus, thanks to the donation of state-of-the-art digital protective relays, meters, and communication devices from Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. (SEL).

The donated equipment, worth more than $178,000, includes six distribution protection relays, 44 overcurrent/reclosing relays, 60 revenue metering systems, eight communication processors, and six system computing platforms. The devices are being installed in the WSU Power Plant and the East Campus Substation.

The installation benefits WSU by replacing old protective relays, some of which are more than 44 years old. The upgrade will also replace meters with new technology that will enable energy studies and usages for each building. SEL will provide engineering analysis and technical support.

“These upgrades will reduce safety hazards for WSU staff who work on these systems, improve the reliability of our power distribution systems, and significantly enhance our ability to diagnose and resolve power disruptions that may occur,” said Lawrence Davis, associate vice president for WSU’s Facilities Operations.

SEL president and founder Ed Schweitzer said donating the equipment to upgrade WSU’s Power Plant and East Campus Substation created a unique opportunity for both parties.

“It shows the high level of cooperation between WSU and SEL and will reap many benefits for both organizations,” he said. Schweitzer taught electrical engineering courses at WSU before founding SEL and said he still gets excited about teaching and creating hands-on learning environments for students.

The donation provides an opportunity for students to assist in the programming and installation of SEL equipment. Senior electrical engineering students studying power distribution are using the equipment in their design projects, gaining knowledge and experience by developing the required diagrams and programming the digital protective relays. WSU instructors will continue to incorporate the equipment into senior design projects for several semesters.

SEL provided two courses, taught at SEL University for one week, for three WSU Facilities Operations engineers. The courses gave the engineers an introductory overview of the relay equipment used in the installation and its theory of operation and application.

WSU is working with SEL on planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony to be held once installation is complete, which is expected to be this fall or early next spring.

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