Spring 2001, Volume 37, No. 2


Lives of a Saint

Altruism 101
Reach Out!
Venture Catalysts
Sagehens in Paradise

-Pomona Forum-
Altruism 101
-News Print-
Professor's Philosophy of Life Unshaken

-Pomona Today-
Professor of the Year
Inside the Power Crunch
Rite of Passage
Top Five
Frats with a Difference
Bridge Over the Pacific
-New Knowledge-
The Secrets of the Hydra
-Sports Report-
Dynamic Duos
Getting On
George Moore
-Campaign Update-
American Dreams

-Parlor Talk-
-Family Tree-
-Alumni Profile-
Casey Trupin '95
-Alumni Puzzler-
-Back Cover-
Pilgrims' Progress


Amid Mason's darkened rooms, a glow could be seen emanating from Room 204. Inside, Associate Professor Eric Miller contorted his body to read by Coleman lantern while his 20 students used votive candles to illuminate their notes.
   Welcome to the beginning of spring classes at Pomona College and to Philosophy 77: Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, Wednesdays 7-10 p.m. Welcome, too, to California's suddenly blossoming energy crisis.
   In another classroom that same morning, Assistant Professor James Marshall's Introduction to Computers course wasn't going quite as planned. With more than enough light streaming through Carnegie's windows, but sans electricity, he explained the process of compiling computer programs with diagrams on the white board. Fortunately, the computer lab was scheduled in a building with a generator.
   While the outages were inconvenient, they did offer some an unexpected quiet time without computers. In Norton-Clark one evening, a group of students gathered in the hall to discuss criminal insanity and the justice system, while others played Trivial Pursuit, and some traveled to local coffee shops to study.
   Pomona, in partnership with the other Claremont Colleges, had signed an interruptible power agreement with Southern California Edison in 1987. In return for significant savings in their utility bills, the Colleges agreed to curtail power when Edison's power reserves reached critical lows or to pay a penalty of 100 times the normal rate for power during those periods. Prior to 1999, the Colleges were asked to curtail power only once or twice a year during the summer, though the contracts limited curtailments to a maximum of 100 hours per year
   Following several outages in November, lasting from 45 minutes to 3 hours, Pomona adopted a temporary policy of overriding electrical interruptions to keep the campus fully powered, for the remainder of the semester. The bill for the 11 hours of extra light and power that Pomona gained in December through the overrides (December 4-7) was approximately $145,000. To minimize the impact of future outages, the College installed six small generators to power essential buildings.
   In January, however, the California energy crisis expanded exponentially. From January 1 to January 25, Edison called for 12 power curtailments for a total of 72 hours. By the second day of classes, Pomona instituted a policy to provide power during peak class times and during nighttime hours. At a cost of approximately $16,000 per kilowatt-hour, Pomona overrode the curtailments for approximately 19 hours.
   "Safety," stressed President Peter Stanley, "is our highest priority. We're also doing everything we can to meet our mission of providing our students with the quality education they're here for."
   Classes in buildings where power was interrupted were moved to buildings with generator power where possible. The Science Library was available as a lighted space for studying when power interruptions occurred, and Frary Dining Hall remained open for meal service.
   With the power crisis escalating, Campus Planning ordered two large 2-megawatt generators, capable of powering most of the Pomona campus. The College also joined 13 similar institutions to form the Power Alliance of Southern California Independent Colleges and Universities, to work for state-level action for relief from power interruptions and onerous penalties.
   On January 26, the California Public Utilities Commission issued a decision ending the higher penalty rates for interruptible plan customers after hearing from many who were unable to shut off all power during curtailments and were facing tremendous fines. The PUC also ruled that penalties incurred by these customers between October 1, 2000 and January 25, 2001 should not be billed but tracked in a separate account. A final decision on the penalties has yet to be made. Meanwhile, Edison is still requesting curtailments, which the PUC expects interruptible customers to observe when possible.
   In February, Pomona College completed the installation of the new 2-megawatt diesel generators, which are capable of powering most of the campus in the event of rolling blackouts. In such an event, the generators can be running within 45 minutes or less. Additionally, the campus community is continuing its efforts to conserve energy and reduce power usage. Collectively, The Claremont Colleges are studying the feasibility of co-generation and the availability of alternate sources of electrical power, for longer-term needs.
   Projections made by Southern California Edison and by the California Public Utilities Commission show continuing power shortages until the year 2003.
   Reflecting the sentiments of many on campus, Professor Miller noted that "As a one-time thing the outages were kind of amusing and weird. But, it would get old really fast. The one thing that kept it from being a rollicking party was the nagging suspicion that the whole semester might be like this." Fortunately, Pomona has taken the steps to ensure that that won't happen. --Cynthia Peters