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Electric Distribution

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From Grid to Campus

The electricity that fuels Stanford starts at wholesale electricity suppliers within the state. One such supplier is Stanford’s Solar Generating Stations, which are augmented by on-campus solar generation and provide a 100% renewable supply. This electricity is then purchased from the supplier through Direct Access contracts and fed through an on-site substation, which runs on two different transmission lines from both the north and south in order to power all of the core Stanford campus (but not including faculty housing, which is on the external utility (PG&E) system. 

The High-Voltage Substation

The Central Energy Facility (CEF)'s 100 megavolt-amperes (mVA) substation is capable of producing about twice the current campus load or enough to power about 100,000 homes. This is both for redundancy and to allow room for growth in the future. This powerful electrical distribution infrastructure is managed, operated, and maintained by an energy operations team that uses a system called SCADA, or supervisory control and data acquisition, to get real-time diagnostics on the power flow throughout the campus network. 

After electricity arrives at the substation, it is transformed from 60 kilovolts (kV) down to 12 kV. This high-voltage electric power can then be shuttled around campus underground through a web of 12 kV and 4 kV cables and switches. Here the power from multiple sources is typically stepped down to 480 volts so it can be supplied to individual buildings. Load centers within the buildings then step the voltage down further so it can be supplied at normal service voltages. 

This final product finds its way into all aspects of campus life, from bright theater stage lights to copy printers. And of course, all vital loads have emergency power back-ups to keep critical teaching or research needs at the right temperatures, regardless of the circumstances.

Renewable Energy

Stanford University relies on 100% renewable electricity to power up the campus. Due to achieving this milestone in the spring of 2022, Stanford is able to transition away from fossil fuels to a more efficient heat recovery system.