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NYC Blackout Highlights Vulnerability of Power Grid


By Greg Zimmerman Power & Communication
power grid lighted city

While the blackout last Saturday night in Manhattan shut down subways, Times Square’s marquees, and even caused Broadway plays to be cancelled, it probably wasn’t more than just a minor inconvenience for most commercial facilities. However, the blackout does once again highlight the potential problems associated with what some consider to be an increasingly vulnerable power grid, as well as the need for focusing on resilience in facilities. Issues of “deferred maintenance, increased demand, climate-change-driven weather calamities, and even the threat of cyberattack put infrastructure at greater risk,” according to this story in the Atlantic

The cause of this blackout started with a faulty cable that set off a “chain of failures” leading to lost power for 72,000 Manhattan electricity customers, said Consolidated Edison’s president Timothy Cowley in the New York Times. At least two parts of the utility’s fail-safe system failed leading to the blackout. 

So thankfully, this blackout was relatively minor, and power was restored within 12 hours. But a new report on the heels of the NYC blackout shows that a cyberattack on London’s power grid could cost the city as much as €123 million per day. Significant economic impacts would result, according to the report from the University of Oxford’s Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC) and the Centre for Risk Studies at the Cambridge Judge Business School.

So facility managers are well-advised to keep resilience, emergency preparedness, and backup power plans in place and current. 

This Quick Read was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on how buildings are tackling climate change.

 

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