If the power bolts, do you have a back-up generator? You likely don’t. So what happens when your employees can’t work? The computers, lights, printer, fridge… all out. Below Nicola Bannister of Flogas, discusses the risk and cost your business faces when it comes to a power cut, investigating the costs of a power cut and what can be done to protect your company from an unplanned disruption.
There was an estimate of 63,000 properties in North Lancashire that were hit by a power cut on the 21st June 2017 and Edinburgh Airport had to delay flights on the 28th June due to a power-related incident. With there being more than 170,000 km of electricity to maintain, power outrages can be a common incident. But how much does it affect business?
Causes of a power cut
There can be many reasons to why a power cut may strike. One of the common reasons is weather conditions. In January 2015, one million people across the North-Eastern Scotland were left without power as a storm struck the power lines. A similar incident happened in Florida following the destruction of Hurricane Irma, 4.4 million homeowners were left without electricity.
One other reason is the growing electricity supply 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 failures and blackout are expected to occur more commonly.
They have been reports of more uncommon causes for a black out. In Somerset, it was reported that a squirrel had bit through the power cables and left 1,000 homes without electricity.
It can also depend on the location in which you live to how many times you’re left without power too. The South of England have experienced the most blackouts in the UK in 2015 with 124 incidents.
Most power failures last only a few hours but there are some that can last days or even weeks, regardless of what causes them. They are inconvenient and can have harmful effects on businesses.
How much can they cost a business?
Power cuts can averagely last 50 minutes in the UK. This may not sound a big deal but its estimated that a single hour of downtime can cost a small business £800, which can be quite damaging.
It’s not just small businesses that they can impact. Larger organisations can see higher losses from a power cut but it is also expected that they can recover quicker too. In 2013, Google lost their power and experienced losses of £100,000 per minute!
There are various reasons behind the losses. If there is no electricity than employees cannot communicate with customers and are therefore losing out on potential sales. Ecommerce can suffer the losses with not having access to their website to monitor sales and client request. Losing unsaved material is also a risk that can be costly to small businesses.
Measures that can be taken to decrease the damage of a power cut
More commonly, power cuts are beyond our control. However, there are measures that a small business can take to reduce the impact from a power cut.
First protocol would be to purchase a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). This allows a computer to keep running for a short while the main electricity has gone off. Usually, an alert will display to the user, notifying that a power cut as occurred, this gives them time to save any unfinished work.
You could also look at purchasing a standalone generator, this can be used in emergencies for when power runs out as it does not rely on electricity generated from the main grid. If you are considering going off grid with your power supplies, it’s recommended to consider a gas cylinder!
A more common practice would be to ensure that you are saving your work regularly and have a contingency plan. This could be an option to inform customers that your power supply is down and you won’t be able to answer queries, this could be done using a mobile device