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How Emergency Power Minimizes Impact of Major Power Outages

Imagine the last time the power went out in your office. If you’re in a typical office building, I’ll bet work came to a halt and everyone stood around, annoyed and unable to work until the power came back on. Now, imagine if you worked in a critical facility such as a hospital, data or computer center, or internet service center. A power outage would be much more than an annoyance.

America’s power grid faces threats from multiple sources including terrorism, weather, cyber warfare and direct attacks impacting data centers, telecommunications, food storage and other critical infrastructure. How important is continuous uninterrupted power to your building or tenants’ business?

Sadly, our electric grid is vulnerable, and it’s only a matter of time before another attack similar to the April 2013 San Jose incident will leave hundreds of thousands in the dark.

So, what are the biggest threats that could impact our power grid... and more importantly, how can we protect against them?

Top Threats to U.S. Power Grid

  • Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP). An EMP from a nuclear blast would cripple power distribution for an extended period of time. Beyond the human and environmental toll of a conventional nuclear or dirty bomb, electric delivery could be interrupted for weeks or longer.
  • Weather. Every American felt the effects of Hurricane Katrina, and Japan is still recovering from the 2011 earthquake. Weather is a force we have no control over. The West Coast of the United States is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis.
  • Cyber Warfare and Terrorism. The Department of Homeland Security reports there are increased attempts with greater levels of sophistication on our power grid. Hackers and terrorist organizations are constantly looking for opportunities to access grid software because it would be a quick way to cripple the economy.

Mitigating the Effects of Power Outages

Even though many factors can threaten the stability of our power grid, the good news is there are solutions to mitigate the impacts of major power outages.The most immediate and effective solution is backup power. Backup power can ensure critical systems remain operational until public utilities are restored.

At a minimum, backup power systems require a generator, transfer switches, a fuel source, and controls. Two options for fuel are natural gas and diesel. In many cases, natural gas is a good option but since they rely on infrastructure service can be disrupted by an earthquake, flood or myriad other disasters.

Diesel fuel, on the other hand, can be stored on-site in quantities that allow the owner to determine the length of time desired to run critical systems.

homeimage.jpgConvault by Oldcastle Infrastructure is an above-ground, on-site fuel storage tank available in many sizes with fuel storage capacity of up to 12,000 gallons. If more fuel is needed for larger sites or longer independent operation, tanks can be twinned together to create the desired on-site fuel storage capacity. The tanks are encased in steel-reinforced precast concrete, making them impact resistant against vehicles, projectiles, blasts, and bullets, ensuring security of the backup power fuel source.

Developing an Emergency Power Plan

Developing an emergency power plan begins with an audit of power systems to determine what equipment and circuits need to remain operational. A qualified electrical engineering firm with experience in developing plans can guide you through the process.

Consider what would happen to your business if disaster suddenly struck. Now is the time to design and implement your emergency power plan, before it is too late.

Looking for other solutions to secure against a major attack on our power infrastructure? Check out this post on how security walls increase power grid security by protecting power at the source – the substation.

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