Tepco Unit Struck By Glitch, Affecting Power, Billing Processes

June 24, 2016

By Steve Anderson - Contributing Writer

When we think of lost things, we often think of small things. A single sock from a washer load, a favorite book, a piece of jewelry. We don't think about the electricity to 6,400 households, but reports from Reuters (News - Alert) suggest that that's just what happened recently to a unit of the Tokyo Electric Power Co Holdings (Tepco) company, as a technical glitch struck its systems and left a mess in its wake.

The reports suggest that Tepco lost track of the electricity usage for 6,400 households, and therefore, new power companies have no ability to bill certain customers for use. Essentially, the Tepco Power Grid, which handles said transmissions, is unable to provide worthwhile April-May usage levels. The households in question had recently switched power providers in April following a complete deregulation of the retail electricity market, and consumers that make the switch must install meters which report consumption to Tepco Power Grid. The customers had made the swap, but Tepco's systems apparently dropped the ball. So far, around 22,000 customers are directly affected in total, along with those whose data is outright missing.

This isn't the first time that Tepco has been on the bad end of disaster; just recently, the new head of Tepco publicly apologized for his predecessor, who had instructed his subordinates not to use the term “core meltdown” in describing events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, a development which is by some reports still taking place to this day.

We expect disasters to affect power. We expect storms to blow down trees and take out power poles. We expect squirrels to stage suicide missions on transformers. We don't expect a power company just up and losing records for several thousand households. Regardless of whether we expect these things or not, we must plan for them, or risk falling victim to their negative effects. When so much of our lives depend on a functioning network, which in turn relies on the power grid, we must be ready. Backup power systems can mean the difference between being able to function, if in a limited capacity, and having no function at all. An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) can be just the thing to provide those brief bursts of power to get through short outages, or at least save work and shut down properly, as opposed to just losing a connection outright and the work currently in progress with it.

Regardless of what form individual preparations take, taking some kind of preparation against a power outage is a smart move. Considering how deeply we rely on power for everyday accomplishments, being ready to supply at least some level of it in the event of an outage is just a smart move. It's the kind of thing that can keep a business running even when everyone around it is not, and that's a competitive edge anyone would want.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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