What are the odds that a bird's nest would cause a power outage, inconveniencing thousands of people in one of the hottest days in Northampton, MA? I would venture to say very low, but believe it or not, in 2003 the Billings Gazette in Montana reported a bird's nest was responsible for an outage after tripping a transformer, resulting in around 500 customers losing power. Granted it took 13 years for this oddity to take place again, but nevertheless it happened.
On Saturday June 23, a bird's nest knocked out three circuits that distributed electricity to the city of Northampton at around noon. According to National Grid Spokesperson Dana Simone, the nest was found at a substation by power crews when they were called in to fix the problem.
The damage to the three circuits resulted in more than 5,000 individual and business customers losing power for several hours. By 3:30 in the afternoon, there were still around 800 customers waiting for power to come back on, and it wasn't until after 5 PM power was fully restored.
Electricity is a critical piece of the infrastructure in the world we live in, and it is responsible for the vast majority of the things we use to live, work and play. Even though this has been the case for almost 100 years, it is more important than ever because of the connected world we live in.
The computers, smart phones, data centers, networks, as well as everyone else that relies on these technologies need power. And as the bird nest incident points out, a power outage can take place any time, with the most random and benign act causing hours of inconvenience for thousands of people.
If you don't protect the computing devices and other consumer electronics in your home or business properly, you can permanently damage them, and more importantly potentially lose the valuable data that is stored within them.
Minuteman, provider of power protection products, has a wide range of uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to ensure everything that is plugged in the wall will be protected. The UPSs the company provides can be monitored and managed remotely, add external batteries daisy-chained in unlimited quantities to provide an extended runtime, and hot swap the batteries without losing protection.
If your computer happens to be on and you are not home during a blackout, brownout or surge, the Minuteman SentryPlus auto-shutdown and monitoring software will power down your computer so you don't run the risk of losing your data.
Will the next power outage in your neighborhood or place of business be the result of a bird's nest damaging a transformer, we can't say it won't, but if you have the right protection in place, it won't matter how bizarre the incident was because you will be OK.