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3 Energy Resiliency Strategies to Prepare for a Power Outage

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On the evening of July 13, 2019, Bill Kenworthy ventured into Broadway and midtown Manhattan streets that had suddenly gone dark. The head of channel sales at Centrica Business Solutions left his apartment with a dying cellphone and, after descending 18 flights of stairs, noticed that traffic was blocked on key streets. He had no idea where the power outage started or ended.

“I walked down the middle of 6th Avenue,” Kenworthy recalls. “It was surreal. One takes for granted that in high-rises, sinks and bathrooms need pumps, and pumps need electricity. I couldn’t help but see the widespread economic loss, missed commerce, spoiled food, unhappy guests. Emergency service personnel were everywhere.”

The outage left 73,000 customers in Manhattan without power for about five hours. During this time, residents were trapped in subway cars and elevators, Broadway theaters lost upwards of $7.5 million in ticket refunds and restaurants lost revenue on what would’ve otherwise been a busy and lucrative Saturday evening. One restaurant even failed an inspection days later and was forced to close, because their walk-in freezer didn’t cool down quickly enough.

Power outages—caused by variety of factors that include inclement weather, natural disasters, an aging energy grid, accidents, equipment failures and an increasing demand for power—are on the rise. Sister company of Direct Energy Business, Centrica Business Solutions, surveyed business owners and found that 92 percent have experienced at least one energy-related failure in the past year. Energy failures aren’t just a short-term inconvenience, either, as they can cost a business as much as one quarter of its annual revenue. Ten percent of businesses report that a power outage of just one hour could be catastrophic to the organization.

While the Manhattan power outage in July is still under investigation by the city’s utility, Con Edison, a transformer fire is believed to be the cause. But regardless of the cause, an energy failure can lead to a cascade of problems for a business. Losing power can mean decreased productivity and damage to inventory and equipment—not to mention significant damage to brand reputation that can lead customers to take their business elsewhere. Despite those major risks, three out of four businesses surveyed by Centrica Business Solutions admit that they are not fully prepared for a power supply interruption.

What can you do to protect your business from power outages, and build an energy-resilient organization? Here are some strategies:

Create an energy resilience plan

The first step to avoid scrambling in the wake of a power outage is to create an energy resilience plan that reduces the chances of an outage and outlines key steps to resume normal business operations. Consider conducting a detailed energy audit to assess the impact of a power failure on your business. Identify potential vulnerabilities across your business, design remediation steps and make sure your employees understand what to do in the event of an outage. This kind of planning can go a long way towards protecting your assets. Businesses that make detailed, long-term energy resilience plans are 34 percent more likely to report strong financial results, according to research by Centrica Business Solutions.

Reduce your reliance on the energy grid by generating and storing on-site power

On-site energy sources can offer your operations a consistent source of power during an outage and even shield your budget price increases and supply fluctuations. Consider investing in solutions provided by Centrica Business Solutions, like backup generators, solar power with battery storage and cogeneration (also known as Combined Heat and Power) to provide your business sites with layers of energy protection. These investments pay off in the long run – Centrica Business Solutions found that 78 percent of businesses report that the costs involved with becoming energy resilient are less than the costs they would incur due to an energy failure.

Keep a close eye on your equipment

Device-level monitoring technology from Centrica Business Solutions allows you and your employees to assess the performance of your equipment in real time. This allows you to spot outliers in energy usage, and fix problems before there is an equipment failure. Device-level monitoring also allows you to determine how much power you will need to keep critical business equipment running during an outage. 

To learn more about protecting and future-proofing your business against energy failures, visit Centrica Business Solutions.

Posted: August 02, 2019