Power Outages Can Be a Nightmare for Individuals and Businesses

January 06, 2017

By Laura Stotler - Power Protection Contributing Editor

It’s the stuff nightmares are made of, at least for those of us who have a fear of being trapped in small spaces in the dark. That nightmare became a reality earlier this week in Elko, NV, when two people were trapped in an elevator thanks to a power outage. More than 6,000 area homes and businesses and more than 11,000 customers were impacted by the two-hour outage, which knocked out a traffic light at a busy intersection.

The cause? Equipment failure that resulted from a bird tripping an electric circuit, which broke a shield wire on a transmission line. This in turn came in contact with a phase converter, which shorted out and caused the outage. Unfortunately, this kind of event happens all the time, and birds, squirrels and other critters are often the cause of widespread outages, along with uncontrollable weather events and other acts of nature. While not much can be done to prevent these kinds of freak problems, steps can be taken to safeguard homes and businesses to ensure a two-hour power outage doesn’t spell disaster.

Power outages are the leading cause of IT downtime; companies ranging from SMBs to giant enterprises have all been negatively impacted by outages during the past year. In one of the largest instances, Delta Airlines underwent a three-day global system failure thanks to a power outage, costing the company $150 million in pre-tax income losses.

Reliable UPS systems could have saved the day in many of these instances, preventing hardware from being fried and keeping important resources up and running until IT staff could come in and intervene. And even in cases where a power outage isn’t the culprit, companies with a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery plan can account for all types of situations and ensure their core systems stay functioning in case of any type of disaster.

The U.S. is unfortunately one of the biggest global offenders when it comes to power outages, largely thanks to our outdated and inefficient electrical grids and systems. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average customer loses power for 214 minutes per year, and this happens every nine months on average. That’s a stark contrast to Japanese customers, who experience an average outage of six minutes – once every 20 years.

For businesses, those kinds of losses are simply unacceptable and could potentially cause millions of dollars in losses and exorbitant brand damage. Organizations need to prepare with appropriate business continuity and disaster recovery plans that include UPS backup systems and solutions.

Edited by Alicia Young

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