Denver Hit with Second Massive Power Outage this Month

October 19, 2018

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

For the second time in about two weeks, a major power outage in Denver, Colorado, left thousands of customers in the dark Tuesday evening.  This time, a downed transmission line impacted some 30,000 customers.  The downed line was repaired and power restored inside of two hours but, as temperatures get colder, utility companies need to take care to ensure their systems are functioning properly and take steps to reduce risk of outage. 

Though Xcel Energy says the incident is unrelated other recent outages, including a separate smaller outage Tuesday only a few blocks away, which was repaired shortly after midnight, the repeated incidents could be cause for concern over the grid’s stability in the area, especially with winter looming.  Tuesday’s widespread outage, in fact, originated at the same substation where an outage earlier this month knocked out power for 11,000 customers.

The outages also should raise a red flag for businesses.  With every outage, the technology they depend upon is at risk of damage – in fact, even without outages, there is a degree of risk.  The fact is that power spikes and surges, which typically accompany outages but can occur at any time, pose a threat to the sensitive circuitry inside equipment.  That includes servers, switches, storage devices, firewalls, and any other equipment. 

If the microcircuits are damaged, they can knock services and resources offline for extended periods, while the cause is identified, damage is assessed, and repair work is completed or replacement equipment purchased, delivered, installed, and configured.  That’s assuming a replacement is readily available and can be shipped quickly.  Even so, the process can take days – weeks or longer if availability is limited, and doesn’t account for the costs involved, including extensive operational downtime.

What can you do?  The simple answer is: Make sure you have a power protection system in place.  The concept is fairly simple.  Just as consumers use power strips with surge suppressors to protect their home technology, business power protection systems regulate line voltage to ensure spikes and surges don’t increase the load to equipment beyond acceptable levels.  UPS systems also have the added benefit of providing limited backup power to systems to allow them to be shut down to prevent data loss or exposure to other risks.  Depending on configuration, some systems can even provide extended runtime to allow critical systems to remain operational during outages. 

Edited by Erik Linask