Power Protection Means Protection from Planned Outages

January 06, 2017

By Steve Anderson - Contributing Writer

We've seen the vulnerability of the power grid to a variety of potential disasters over the years. Kamikaze squirrels and raccoons attacking transformers, errant Mylar balloons hitting power lines, cars hitting poles for a variety of reasons, but it all adds up to one thing: no power. That's all bad enough for its sheer randomness, but what do you do when the power goes out...because the power company planned it that way?

That's just what's coming up in the latest case for power protection measures, as Consumers Energy told Grand Rapids-area residents about a planned power outage, slated to hit this Saturday at 2:30 a.m. The outage is expected to last no more than 30 minutes, and will allow Consumers Energy to repair transmission equipment at the substation near Kalamazoo Avenue and 68th Street.

Reasonable enough, but what some may not know is the Grand Rapids area—indeed much of Michigan—is currently in the grip of arctic air, with lows at that time projected to hit somewhere in the neighborhood of seven degrees, before the wind chill is considered. This means that everyone not engaged in burning wood for fuel will lose access to furnaces for a half hour in the coldest part of the night in the middle of a Michigan winter.

Despite this, Consumers Energy doesn't expect that the outdoor temperatures will “...pose a significant disruption” for its customers. Further, Consumers actively warned customers of the temporary shutoff via notification postcards, even delaying the outage a half-hour to accommodate a business customer's request.

This may be the most thoroughly clear reason to have at least some level of power protection in play. If the power goes out in summer, it gets sticky and unpleasant. If it goes out in winter, it can be potentially lethal. Sure, a half-hour power outage will almost always be nothing more than an inconvenience for all but the most extreme situations like hospital respirators, but Consumers is clearly forgetting about Murphy's Law, which notes that if something can go wrong, it will. A half-hour without a furnace might result in chilled noses—it won't even spoil food in the refrigerator—but if that half-hour turns into an hour, or turns into three hours, the problem only gets worse.

Thus we see that a simple if rather pessimistic view of the world makes it clear that power protection mechanisms—be they full generators or even uninterruptible power systems like those used to buy a little extra time to shut down a computer properly—allow businesses and regular consumers to protect themselves against the nearly-inevitable loss of the power grid. 

Edited by Alicia Young

Article comments powered by Disqus

Power Your campus

Featured Whitepapers

Security & Power: The Critical Role of Power Protection for Security

This White Paper provides security users and installers with valuable information about the importance of power protection for security equipment.

Saving Time & Money with Remote Power Management

This White Paper provides statistics and information about the cost of downtime related to remote equipment, and how organizations can benefit from including remote power management products (IP-addressable PDUs) in their power protection strategy.

Powering Your Disaster Planning

The white paper describes key components of a comprehensive plan to prevent businesses and other organizations from suffering severe consequences as a result of a power outage.

Featured Technotes

What is 3-phase Power?

This installment of the TechNotes series takes you through the basics of single, dual, and 3-phase power, giving you the knowledge to decide which type of power is best for your needs.

Endeavor: Added Runtime vs. Added Cost

This TechNotes paper looks at the relationship between added cost and added runtime when including XL battery packs with Minuteman Endeavor 1kVA, 2kVA, & 3kVA UPSs.

Featured Podcast

The Importance of Remote Power Management for Disaster Preparedness

TMC podcast with Minuteman UPS/Para Systems on the importance of remote power management solutions for optimum power protection.