Pursuit of Reliable Power: Report Reveals Real Business Impacts of Power Blinks

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In today’s digitally connected era, millions of devices in our homes and businesses rely on steady power to work effectively. As frustrating and inconvenient as it can be to lose power for consumers–who rely on it for their Wi-Fi routers, microwaves, and other devices every day–outages are exponentially more damaging to commercial and industrial businesses whose operations depend heavily on systems and equipment staying powered. Losing power for even a moment means connections are dropped, time is wasted, and transactions are lost. More than a nuisance, these quick power “blinks” reveal a larger concern for utility providers, business leaders, and consumers.

A preliminary update to an earlier report from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests the annual cost of short interruptions in the U.S. is rising, from $52 billion in 2002 to $60 billion in 2014. As a result, business leaders and utility providers around the world are taking notice of the impact of short interruptions.

To investigate the impact of power blinks, S&C Electric Company surveyed leading companies with average yearly revenues of $4 billion or more and released the “2019 State of Commercial & Industrial Power Reliability Report” (C&I Report). The report reveals how outages affect businesses and how these companies are addressing the issue. The C&I Report revealed three notable power reliability trends for businesses:

  • Growing Awareness of Power Outages
    Commercial and industrial businesses are increasingly aware of outages, regardless of the length. Even short outages impact these companies, which suggests a strong dependency on reliable power.

    In 2019, businesses reported a 22 percent increase in yearly outages, while monthly outages remained consistent from 2018, with more than 1 in 5 companies experiencing outages every month. More concerning, however, is that more than 1 in 3 companies (36 percent) are affected by power blinks or momentaries (outages that last less than 5 minutes), yet their utility providers do not typically consider these outages.

  • Lack of Tracking for Power Blinks
    Given the short nature of momentary outages, most utilities do not track these power blinks. This is because there is no mandate for utilities to report them, and these blinks do not count against utilities’ reliability scores. Therefore, utilities may not be fully aware of the impact of these blinks. However, the C&I Report revealed 1 in 3 companies are negatively affected by a mere blink in power. With one-third of commercial and industrial companies experiencing momentary outages in 2018–a 71 percent increase from the previous year–utilities significantly lack visibility into a problem with significant business implications nationwide.

  • Power Reliability a Necessity—and Concern—of Businesses
    Considering the size and breadth of companies surveyed in the C&I Report, outages of any length, and specifically short-duration momentary outages, create real costs and lasting consequences for everyday businesses operations. Commercial and industrial customers see power reliability as a critical component to their success, and one-quarter of companies surveyed said poor power reliability inhibits their ability to grow. Another quarter doubts their utilities will be able to support their long-term growth.

With energy dependency on the rise, business leaders are increasing their investments in power alternatives to ensure a steady connection. This indicates both a high level of importance being placed on power reliability and a concern about utility providers’ ability to meet these businesses’ needs.

To meet consumers’ ever-evolving expectations and achieve both short- and long-term business goals, companies need reliable power. As society’s dependency on power grows–and power blinks remain a major issue–businesses leaders should initiate conversations with their utility providers to ensure their needs are met.

To learn more about the latest power reliability trends, read the full “2019 State of Commercial & Industrial Power Reliability Report”.