Repeated Power Outages Mean Lost Business

July 03, 2018

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

An occasional power outage is challenging enough for businesses, which face operational disruption when equipment and technology aren’t able to function.  Fortunately, most are relatively short-lived and business functions usually are able to resume within a few hours.  However, when outages become more frequent, the opportunity loss is compounded, as has been the case in Cordova, Tennessee recently.

When a storm passed through the area on Monday, more than 9,000 business and residential customers lost power in the middle of the afternoon.  This was the fourth significant outage in just over a week.  On June 23, an outage left 35,000 customers without power; on June 28, another outage impacted more than 7,000 customers; and on June 30, a third outage hit some 8,000 homes and businesses.

While storms often result in outages, their frequency has created challenges for local businesses, which are unable to generate revenue without power.  While some businesses are able to at least partially function during outages, most see business come to a standstill.

“As bad as it is to sit at home with no power, it's really bad to sit at work when you can't make any money,” Andrew Towery, who works in Cordova Towne Center, told local reporters

The specific causes for the recurring outages are being investigated, but it’s likely that aging subsystem equipment is at partially at fault.  According to reports, much of the equipment dates back as far as the 1950s.

Frequent outages present another concern for businesses, as each time power is cut and restored, electrical systems can send surges through lines, putting any sensitive circuitry in connected systems at risk.  Every surge or spike, even if they don’t immediately appear to damage equipment, weakens circuits, increasing the likelihood they won’t be able to withstand the next incident.  When that happens, businesses face lost opportunities far beyond the duration of the outage, as they must repair or replace the damaged equipment.

The best way for businesses to protect themselves against damage to technology is to install power protection systems, including UPS units that not only regulate line voltage, but provide backup power to, at a minimum, allow systems to be manually shut down properly to avoid damage and data loss. 

There’s little that individual businesses can do to avoid outages, but they should be aware of the inherent risks and take precautionary measures, especially if outdated utility equipment is being used.

Edited by Erik Linask