Two-Day Power Outage in Arizona Has Lessons for Businesses

May 12, 2017

By Michael Guta - Contributing Writer

The power outages that are reported on TMC (News - Alert) generally last anywhere from minutes to several hours, so a two-day outage is an anomaly, to say the least. This incident took place Monday evening at the Tohono O'odham Nation in Arizona, where a weather-related event resulted in what officials called severe damage to their infrastructure. It would be two days before power was restored.

The Tohono O’odham Nation was established in 1917, and it covers an area of 2.8 million acres or 4,460 square miles. According to the Nation, they have 28,000 members occupying the land. The outage didn't affect everyone, but some 3,500 homes and around 11,000 people were without power. Officials said the damage was so extensive, outside experts had to be called in to restore power. And by around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, power was restored.

Not having power for 48 hours in the business world is an eternity, with grave consequences if you don't have the right power protection solutions in place. Depending on the type of business, every minute in the dark can result in thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

So what are the lessons learned from the extended outage in Arizona?

As a business, it is important to see any outage in stages. The first stage of any outage should be dealt with using power protection solutions such as a surge protector and Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS). What they will do is protect the devices you have connected to them from any sudden surge, and continue to supply power so you can power down computers properly so you won't corrupt or completely lose your data. For the vast majority of outages that don't last that long, this will be enough.

The second stage is to be prepared for an extended outage. This means having a generator or even a UPS with extended batteries as backup power. According to Minuteman, there are UPS solutions that can support almost any application, ranging anywhere from five minutes to two days. But it is important to note, this backup is only for your computing devices and some peripherals.

If you want to run your lights, phone, fax machines and other equipment, you will need a generator with enough output to supply everything with power. This is why it is critically important to consult with experts that will let you know what size generator you will need. Once you get the generator, you might not use it for a very long time, so test it regularly to make sure it is working and has enough fresh fuel.

If you have prepared for both stages, your business should survive even longer outages. Make these preparations by learning how prone your location is to outages and deploying the necessary solutions in terms of capacity. Minuteman has a tool it calls SizeMyUPS to find a UPS solution with enough backup time to address your needs. The company says typically you should plan for enough run time so you can properly shutdown your systems. And if you are not at your office or home, choose a solution that has automatic or remote options.

Edited by Alicia Young