It was estimated that 63,000 properties in North Lancashire were struck by a power cut on the 21st June 2017 and Edinburgh Airport had delayed flights on the 28th June due to power related issues. With over 170,000 km of electricity cables to maintain, power cuts will sometimes happen, but how much can they affect your business?
Working with Flogas, retailers of commercial gas, we investigate the cost of power outages and what can be done to protect your company from an unplanned disruption.
The causes of power cut
Power cuts can happen for a number of different reasons. One of the more common reasons is harsh weather conditions. In January 2015, one million people across North Eastern Scotland were left without power because of a storm that had broken loose and struct the power lines. A similar incident had happened in Florida following the destruction of Hurricane Irma, 4.4 million homeowners were left without electricity.
One other reason is the growing electricity gap in the UK, Jenifer Baxter, head of energy and environment at the institution of Mechanical Engineers said Under current [government] policy, it is almost impossible for UK electricity demand to be met by 2025,”. Along with proposals to phase out coal-fired power and a lack of investment in national grid infrastructures, power cuts and blackouts are expected to become more frequent.
There are also uncommon reasons for blackouts. It was reported that a squirrel had chewed through power cables in Somerset which left 1,000 homes without electricity.
Depending on where you live can affect how many times you experience a power cut. The South of England suffered the most blackouts in the UK in 2015 with 124 incidents.
Most power failures last a few hours but some can last days or even weeks. Regardless of how they’re caused, they are inconvenient and can cause great damages to your business.
How much can they cost your business?
In the UK, the average power cut lasts for 50 minutes. This may not sound much but a single hour of downtime is estimated to cost a small business £800.
Even larger organisations can see higher losses despite them being expected to recover quicker. In 2013, Google had lost their power and experienced loses of £100,000 per minute!
The reasons behind the losses can vary. Losing power can stop employees from communicating with customers and are therefore losing out on potential sales. For an ecommerce company, a power cut can stop them from accessing their website to monitor sales and client requests. There is also the risk of losing unsaved material which can be costly to a small business.
Precautions that you can take to decrease the damage of a power cut
It’s quite common that a power cut is caused by reasons beyond our control. It’s essential to prepare yourself for the outcome to reduce the damage to your business.
It’s highly recommended you firstly, purchase a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). This allows your computer to keep running for a short period, while the power is out. Usually a warning sign will show up on your screen, notifying you that a power cut has occurred, which will give you time to save any unfinished work.
Another option could be to purchase a standalone generator; this can be used in emergencies for when power runs out as it does not rely on power from the main grid. If you are thinking about going off-grid with your power supplies, it is worth considering gas cylinders too.
Along with the two actions, you can ensure that you are saving your work on a regular basis and have a contingency plan. This could be a way to communicate with your customers, should a power cut occur. You could do this through using a mobile device.