Every business relies on energy for critical tasks, but with this dependence comes risk. As organizations seek to become more sustainable, it’s vital to plan not only for short-term energy needs, but also for long-term energy security. Businesses that lack energy resilience and aren’t prepared for a power outage are leaving themselves open to much more than just downtime.
Just one quick power cut can bring a company – or in this case, a city – to its knees.
Midtown Manhattan and parts of the Upper West Side experienced a large blackout on July 13. Iconic parts of midtown, including Times Square and Rockefeller Center, were left in the dark.
The outage began at 6:47pm, leaving 72,000 customers without power for about 5 hours. Thousands of people were trapped in subway cars and elevators. Traffic lights ceased to function, resulting in manual direction of cars, ambulances, and pedestrians.
The loss of power had negative consequences for businesses in the affected areas. Revenue loss on a busy summer Saturday night in NYC can prove detrimental to a business’ bottom line. For instance, it is estimated that 29 tons of food were tossed due to a lack of proper refrigeration, as restaurants had to replace their spoiled inventory of perishable food items. In addition, Broadway lost over $7.5 million in potential sales, being forced to refund ticket sales back to ticket holders – these losses don’t even account for other theater operating expenses lost that night.
“On Friday night, Broadway and midtown Manhattan went dark at 6:45pm EST. Within 15 minutes, I left the apartment I was in on 58th with a dying cell phone and no idea where the outage started or ended. With no elevators in service, I took a dizzying set of turns down 18 flights of stairs. Traffic was blocked on key streets. I walked down the middle of 6th Ave. 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. This is something that we at Centrica Business Solutions need and want to help fix.”
Bill Kenworthy – Head of Channel Sales, Centrica Business Solutions
ConEdison has blamed the power outage on a failed relay protection system at a substation on West 65th St. This system is designed with redundancies to provide high levels of reliability. However, a 13kV distribution feeder had a fault which neither the primary nor backup relay system successfully isolated, which then brought down distribution networks across Midtown and the Upper West Side.
It’s sometimes only when a power outage happens that organizations truly realize how much their operations rely on a consistent supply of energy, and any vulnerable areas in operation come to light. But by that time the damage is already done.
Achieving energy resilience is more than just keeping the lights on – it is about protecting your business processes. The cost of an energy loss can be catastrophic. A power outage can hit more than your production – there’s loss of inventory, equipment damage, even damage to customer relationships and brand reputation. This can destroy a company’s value – not to mention the careers of those unprepared to deal with a power failure.
If businesses don’t want to be impacted by the very real threat of a power loss, they need to start focusing on generating their own energy and making more efficient use of their current energy supply.
There’s no doubt that the risks of power supply interruption are growing, which is reflected in the growing concern among businesses.
Recent research by Centrica Business Solutions shows that energy security is seen as one of the fastest-growing business risks, with 35% of businesses viewing energy security as a substantial risk to their long-term economical success. Alarmingly, 73% of businesses feel less than “very well prepared” for an interruption in power supply, and as more processes and offerings become digitized, 87% of businesses believe that resilience measures are vitally important.
What makes an energy-related failure so hard to protect against – and therefore so damaging – is unpredictability. But studying the various causes of those failures shows that there are ways that businesses can be better protected.
What businesses need is an energy resilience strategy.
The good news is that there are effective distributed energy solutions available to protect organizations and ensure that they maintain business continuity – whatever power reliability challenges they may face.
Integrating energy resilience into a long-term energy strategy will provide the best outcomes. There’s a direct correlation between businesses that have a well-planned energy resilience strategy and positive business outcomes in the event of a failure. Recent research conducted by Centrica Business Solutions shows that businesses who make detailed plans are 34% more likely to report strong financial performance.
The most forward-thinking businesses are those who are taking control of their energy supply. They are facing a changing energy landscape by increasing the amount of power they self-generate as opposed to relying entirely on energy from the grid.
The ‘peak of the storm’ when critical processes are compromised is not the time for thinking – it's the time to activate a robust contingency plan. We recommend 3 steps to develop your resilience plan:
As a market leader in the global energy industry, Centrica Business Solutions has the capabilities to support your end-to-end resilience strategy. This includes working with you to analyze your business needs, understand specific risks, and create a robust contingency plan.
We can also design and implement resilient energy solutions, including using our intelligent insights technologies to improve performance of your energy assets and pinpoint vulnerabilities. Our on-site generation solutions can also provide you with a more efficient and stable energy supply – and increase your energy flexibility.
A much-anticipated NEM 3.0 proposal from the CPUC will affect net metering benefits and drastically…
This year, our most popular blogs highlighted our readers’ interest in maximizing their energy…
An easy-to-understand analysis of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.