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Eaton’s Blackout Tracker Report: Measuring The Impact Of 2017 U.S. Power Outages

Ed Spears discusses the findings from Eaton's recent 2017 Blackout Tracker Annual Report which measures the impact of power failures across the nation.

Eaton recently released findings from the 2017 Blackout Tracker Annual Report, measuring the impact of power failures across the nation. From minor events that affected a handful of homes or businesses to massive outages that left entire regions in the dark, Eaton tracked blackouts incited by human error, Mother Nature, bushy-tailed critters and a variety of other sources.

In all, 3,526 outages were tabulated and used as the basis for the 2017 report, a reduction of nearly 9 percent compared to the 3,879 outages tracked in 2016. However, the number of people affected by outages more than doubled —increasing by almost 19 million from 2016 to 2017.

This year’s report found that in 2017 nearly 27 million people were affected by blackouts lasting an average of 81 minutes per power outage. While California topped the list of states with the most interruptions for the ninth consecutive year, power failures impacted individuals and businesses in all 50 states. The report also includes an interesting overview of the most unusual causes of power outages in 2017.

Downtime Figures Not For The Faint Of Heart

Businesses today can be significantly impacted by the price tag that comes with a power outage. A recent ITIC study revealed that for large enterprises with more than 1,000 employees, the costs associated with a single hour of downtime averages $100,000. In verticals like manufacturing, that number rises to $5 million dollars for a power outage lasting just one hour.

It’s important to remember that downtime isn’t only about dollars. A negative experience can significantly damage an organization’s reputation and cause customers to flee to competitors. Losses in data, workflow and reputation caused from unplanned outages can even push companies out of business if they don’t take preventative action.

While the industry downtime average is dependent on many factors, and monetary losses vary based on a broad range of elements — including revenue, business type, outage duration, the number of people affected and the time of day an outage strikes — it’s safe to say that downtime is something that all organizations want to avoid.

What Can Be Done?

Findings from the 2017 Blackout Tracker Report underscore the critical need for disaster recovery planning today. The number of people affected by pervasive electrical power outages, surges and spikes continue to rise each year — making it more critical than ever to develop a reliable power protection solution that will ensure uptime. When it comes to minimizing the impacts of an impending disaster, the best defense is to be prepared.

Although power failures commonly occur, deploying power backup solutions can help avoid downtime and interruptions. Solutions such as uninterruptible power systems (UPSs), generators and power management software are designed to deliver reliable power during outages so vital systems can stay up and running. The solutions and strategies that organizations decide to deploy for business continuity also determine how long each piece of equipment will run during a power outage.

In many fast-paced industries today, deploying a manual, reactive approach to power monitoring and management isn’t sustainable. As findings from this year’s Blackout Tracker report suggest, power outages can have a major impact on business, customer satisfaction and overall operations. However, with an advanced power protection plan — one that makes use of today’s innovative power backup solutions–organizations can take the necessary steps to ensure dependable power generation for vital IT resources.

Ed Spears is a product manager at Eaton.

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