Damaged Utility Company Equipment: How Business Can Protect Themselves

February 22, 2018

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

The winter months are always challenging, often causing difficult driving conditions, heating system issues, increased incidents of illness and generally a higher level of discomfort and, of course, more frequent power outages.  All of these can have a negative impact on businesses’ ability to function optimally.

In fact, this week has been a difficult one in many areas across mid-Michigan, with windy conditions knocking down trees and branches across many counties, knocking out power for thousands.

Monday evening, however, an outage impacting nearly 9,000 customers in Montcalm, Gratiot, and Isabella counties and leaving them without power from 6:02pm Monday to 1:36am Tuesday. 

According to a Consumers Energy media representative, a failed insulator caused a transformer bank and a transmission substation to go down.  The insulator is a device on the cross arm of a power pole that separates energized and non-energized equipment.  The separation is critical, as contact with energized equipment can instantly cause damage to whatever initiates the contact, damaging the equipment and causing an outage. 

There are countless incidents each year of outages caused by animals and other wildlife coming into contact with energized equipment, knocking out power to businesses and residents, despite best efforts to prevent them.

“Sometimes, equipment fails, and it causes the outage,” the Consumers Energy rep told the Morning Sun News.

Utilities do what they can to prevent outages but aren’t always successful.  As such, it’s incumbent on businesses to protect their own assets, assuming outages will happen.  With each outage – and even with small surges that don’t cause outages – powered equipment, including servers, routers and switches, phone systems, and other technology are susceptible to damage. 

What many business leaders don’t consider is that every surge can weaken the circuits that allow equipment to function and, eventually, they will break completely, taking business operations connected to those resources offline, requiring potentially expensive repairs or replacement on top of the down time while the cause of the interruption is discovered.

The easiest solution is a properly sized power protection and UPS system.  They be installed in a number of configurations to meet specific business needs and can be used in a variety of capacities.  Some can deliver power long enough for infrastructure to be properly shut down, while other can provide power for a longer period, leaving operational capabilities intact for a period.  If lengthy outages are a concern, though, backup generator systems may also be required, in conjunction with power protection systems.

Edited by Erik Linask

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.