Last July, in the midst of an oppressive heat wave, New York’s Staten Island borough President James Molinaro was forced to cancel a Little League game not only to keep kids out of the dangerous heat but to also help save electricity that people would need for air conditioning in the homes, since the game was to be played under stadium lights.
During this time last year, about 52,000 of ConEd's 3.2 million customers lost power during the heat wave and rising triple-digit temperatures forced residents to seek refuge at city cooling stations or to check-in to hotels.
So were these power outages, which were only caused by extreme heat, a one-time fluke? Unfortunately, according to experts on the nation’s electricity system, we may see a “steep” increase in non-disaster related outages affecting at least 50,000 customers in the coming years, according to a CNN report. In fact, during the past two decades, these types of blackouts have increased 124 percent – up from 41 blackouts between 1991 and 1995, to 92 between 2001 and 2005.
“Extremes in weather of any kind can lead to power problems, as we in Texas saw this past winter when extreme cold lead to rolling blackouts,” Duston Nixon, marketing communications specialist at power protection leader Minuteman UPS/Para Systems (News - Alert), told TMCnet in a recent interview. “Extreme heat in areas that are not accustomed to it causes the same problems, as utility providers face usage rates that are outside the norm, and are forced to scramble changes in delivery to account for the difference.”
So what is the solution to outages on sweltering hot days that leave you sweating and praying for air conditioning?
“Power protection is a necessity in all seasons as our current load on the grid causes frequent problems, but seasonal extremes increase the frequency of these problems dramatically,” Nixon said. “It is important to remember that even though the lights are staying on, voltages can be fluctuating greatly which can reduce equipment life and cause data errors.”
Minuteman, a company that produces some of the industry's most reliable power technology products, has offered Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) for computers, servers, peripherals, voice and data communication systems, security systems and other mission-critical equipment since 1982. Those offerings have found homes in more than 100 countries all over the world.
Minuteman’s power protection products do not just protect against hot days, but they also are responsible for keeping businesses up and running. The power protection company reports that average business experience five outages a year.
“Without protection, this means that 5.7 times per year business cannot be conducted,” Nixon, told TMCnet in a recent interview. “Though the average outage lasts only 10 minutes, the time to reboot equipment is much longer, not to mention time lost due to unsaved work and/or corrupted data.”
The Electric Power Research Institute has found that, on average, a one second power outage costs a business $1,477, and the tab for a one hour outage comes to $7,795. Overall, this costs the U.S. economy between $104 and $164 billion annually.
“The initial cost of most of our UPS products can be easily recovered the first time an outage occurs,” Nixon said. “This is true for our lowest priced offerings, the EnSpire Series Standby, which can support a desktop PC or network equipment, as it is for our enterprise-level Endeavor Series, which can support an entire network or server system.”