natural gas-SOU-steam plant

Natural gas failure limiting some services at SOU

Failure of a valve on the main natural gas line that serves SOU and a large portion of Ashland is affecting students and employees at the university in various ways, but is expected to be resolved this evening or on Wednesday.

One of SOU’s natural gas-fueled boilers was temporarily converted this morning to burn diesel fuel. That boiler will provide heat and hot water to most buildings in the core of campus.

However, the Shasta, McLoughlin and Madrone residence halls will be without hot water until the natural gas service is restored, and The Hawk dining facility will be without its gas grills, steam kettles and dishwashers. Other campus facilities – including OLLI; the Facilities, Maintenance and Planning offices; the Digital Media Center; and the Bookstore – are on independent gas meters and are also without heat.

Staff at The Hawk are using induction stovetops to boil water for sanitization and limited cooking. The kitchen is offering salads, sandwiches, fresh fruit, pasta bar, already-prepared baked goods and some items that are being grilled on outdoor barbecues.

Elmo’s in the Stevenson Union is offering limited service, with sushi, salads, grab-and-go fare and limited grill items. Einstein’s coffee shop in the student union is at full service; Southern Grounds at the Hannon Library is offering limited beverage options.

Avista Corporation, the Ashland area’s natural gas supplier, turned off the gas meters of homes surrounding SOU this afternoon and told customers the outage is expected to last until Wednesday. However, Avista said on its website that it may take two to three days for the outage to be fully resolved. The gas company said 2,300 customers in an area from the Ashland Airport to downtown are affected.