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Transforming power supply at Vancouver Island hospital

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In an article first published in Canadian Healthcare Facilities, Lisanne Naeth, P.Eng, a senior electrical engineer at AES Engineering, describes plans for a new, remotely located, electrical energy centre at Victoria General Hospital on Vancouver Island. The project will see essential electrical supply greatly improved, increase resilience, address safety issues related to the proximity of the current main electrical room to two water mains, and provide additional future site flexibility.

Located on the south end of Vancouver Island, Victoria General Hospital (VGH) is a 347-bedded acute care facility. The 1981-constructed hospital comprises a main diagnostic and treatment (D&T) podium and two seven-storey patient towers. Over the years, the facility has been expanded and renovated, and includes a new Emergency Department. The hospital is supplied from utility at
25 kilovolts (kV) via an underground feeder into the main electrical room located on Level 1. Much of the original main electrical distribution is still in service. While meticulously maintained, including some breaker upgrades, the equipment is 40 years' old, and has reached the end of its expected service life.

Examination of the essential power distribution revealed that the two 600-kilowatt, 600-volt generators no longer provide N+1 redundancy. (Both generators are required to meet the demand of the vital and delayed vital branches.) This is a result of the ongoing organic growth of essential power requirements in the facility. The limitation of available essential power poses a significant challenge for routine equipment refreshes, upgrades, and renovations, as most new imaging modalities have a higher power demand than that of the equipment being replaced.

In addition to equipment age and capacity issues, there are two active capital regional district (CRD) trunk water mains — of 1,220 and 1,067 mm in diameter — routed across the site approximately 30 metres from the main electrical room. The site has a natural dip or low point near the main electrical room. If both water supply mains were to rupture due to a natural disaster or piping failure, this electrical room would flood to an elevation of nine metres in 4.5 hours, because there is no automatic control function to shut down water flow.

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