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Power Protection Featured Article

January 02, 2013

2012's Storms Caused Major Power Supply Damage - How Will 2013 Keep the Lights On?

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

The word of the year for 2012 seemed to be "storms.” From the June 29 derecho that took out power across several Midwestern states to the East Coast’s Hurricane Sandy, it appears as if every corner of the country was affected in some fashion. These storms – while devastating – showed a lot of people just how vulnerable the power grid is when that familiar rumble starts up, begging the question of how to better prepare for 2013. But what can be done to protect power lines against the worst that the weather can offer?

Power is vital to our way of life; without power, our refrigerators can't store food for extended periods, nor can air conditioners or even fans keep the heat of summer at bay. Those in areas with heavy winters could even die without electricity, as furnaces are unable to operate their blower fans without it. For businesses, the picture is even worse, as customer losses, cash flow losses, and eventually, job losses may follow a protracted outage.

We saw both sides of this coin during the derecho that led to power companies offering ice and water supply stations for customers without power until mid-July, as well as during Hurricane Sandy, in which large portions of New York City shivered in the early-November cold. The monetary costs were also massive; the derecho alone was said to have cost West Virginian businesses millions of dollars in lost business and inventory, with Sandy causing billions.

Naturally, this led to questions about how to prevent such issues in the future, such as burying the lines. While this often would do the job of protecting power supplies in the event of a natural disaster like Sandy or a similar derecho, the issue is one of cost, as burying power lines would cost millions of dollars per mile. In fact, it could cost as much as ten times what it costs to string them conventionally.

But while this method may not be the one to get reliability out of the power company, new rules set in 2011 will hopefully be in effect in 2014, which may prove to be quite helpful. Under those new rules, power companies will have to identify their worst five percent in terms of reliability and make improvements accordingly, such that outages will likely lessen with time.

Power outages are seldom convenient – just ask the kids who got to go to Disneyland in California just ahead of Christmas when a power outage turned the happiest place on Earth into a darkened set from a horror movie. But for businesses especially, having some kind of backup power system in place is key to keeping devices operational and keeping businesses making money even through power outages.

We all like to think that clients will understand the excuse of, “We just had a power outage, so there may be some delays" – especially given that businesses can't control the weather that brings down power lines – but today, this understanding is quickly wearing thin, where businesses and customers alike want instant gratification. To keep that business, backups need to be properly established and running, and power systems need to be protected.

To learn about efficient, cost-efficient power protection solutions and equipment for your business and mission critical equipment, click here.

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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo
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