Case Study

Public Research University

Keeping a Campus Energized Despite Disruptions
A premier, public research university’s aging energy infrastructure was not up to the task of powering the campus’s state-of the art innovation center, labs, classrooms and dormitories. They turned to Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions (DESS) to modernize their campus electrical infrastructure system.


The Challenge

The university’s existing electrical infrastructure system was over 60 years old and far beyond its useful life. Any interruption of power had the potential to cause lengthy outages that could affect academic, research and student life activities.

After experiencing a series of power outages caused by equipment failure, the institution found itself in need of a more modern, reliable electrical system that would help to eliminate lengthy recovery times in the event of unplanned downtime.

However, capital constraints due to price inflation and budgetary timelines proved to be a challenge for funding the project. Furthermore, they needed to work with an energy provider they could trust to provide a comprehensive energy solution, meet deadlines and provide best-in-class service.


The Solution

Following the success of an electrical infrastructure project at its data center, the university enlisted the expertise of DESS to help modernize its campus electrical infrastructure system. DESS installed concrete encased underground duct banks and medium-voltage cable on the main campus, which the customer terminated on its new MV switchgear.

The newly installed electrical distribution system now includes a loop system, which allows for the isolation of an equipment failure while maintaining service to the remaining campus loads.

This solution not only reduces the number of facilities affected when there is equipment failure but also reduces recovery time when the power goes out. To solve its capital constraints challenge, the university was able to shift project funding from a capital expenditure to an operating expense – a move that provided the customer with predictable monthly payments.


The Results

  • High-quality installation that was completed ahead of schedule
  • Shift from capital expenditure to operating expense that provided protection against inflation
  • More resiliency for better protection against downtime
  • Collaborative relationship with an award-winning, trusted and reliable energy advisor


Stronger electrical infrastructure. Less power interruption.

For the duration of the project, DESS worked in close collaboration with the school on tree protection, the location of existing utilities, traffic control and landscaping. This was largely due to students being on campus during the time of excavation work as well as in high-traffic areas on campus and through the college’s nearby botanical garden.

To help the university better reach its resiliency goals, DESS installed more than 20,000 linear feet of 3-by-3-foot concrete-encased duct banks as well as 367,000 total feet (approximately 69 miles) of medium-voltage cable. By replacing aging electrical distribution infrastructure and creating a redundant loop feed system, the university is better able to eliminate single points of failure.

Underground express tie circuits help to connect the switchgear buildings and are appropriately sized so that either building can serve the entire campus. Subloops provide capacity to handle the entire load of another circuit in the event of its failure as well as anticipated additional campus loads.

Additionally, the west express feeder replaced an overhead transmission line running through the university’s botanical garden.

Ultimately, these improvements help to drastically reduce the campus’s outage and recovery times and increase the reliability of its overall distribution system.


Who We Are

Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions has been improving the quality, resiliency and efficiency of energy strategy for large commercial and industrial customers for over 25 years. Our expertise, contracting flexibility and variable risk sharing allow our clients to improve their mechanical and electrical infrastructure while delivering better business outcomes.

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We look forward to speaking with you about your backup power, energy resiliency and electrical infrastructure needs.