The Value of Reliable Power

  December 7, 2011

Everyone knows mission-critical facilities have outsized power quality and reliability requirements. But our world is becoming more power hungry, increasingly digitalized and threatened by the prospect of even momentary grid failure. It's therefore sensible that facility managers examine lessons learned from mission-critical facility planners when addressing power reliability for other parts of the organization.

Even for facilities without mission-critical status, loss of power has serious ramifications, particularly at a time when brand loyalty among consumers is eroding. When power reliability problems cause customers to go elsewhere, a temporary outage can cause a permanent shift in clienteles' purchasing decisions.

Increasingly, all kinds of organizations are requiring what is referred to as "premium power" — a combination of power quality and reliability. The bottom line, in the case of power reliability, is that facility managers have to measure both the direct and indirect costs of outages. By assessing the effects of an outage, planning for additional reliability, and then making the case with an organization's executives, facility managers can minimize revenue loss.

Facility managers often have a difficult time quantifying the value of power reliability — and for good reason. The extent of problems incurred by outages depends on business requirements and organizational mission.

Irrespective of an organization's choice for backup power, the value of having a backup system should be estimated. To that end, the Environmental Protection Agency's Combined Heat and Power initiative offers an approach to estimate the value of reliability.

According to EPA, some customers can determine the direct costs of outages by reviewing recent outage history and estimating an annualized cost of outages to their operations. One approach is to quantify the direct cost impacts of momentary outages (less than 10 seconds) on either a dollars-per-incident or dollars-per-minute basis.


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