Eaton’s Blackout Tracker Annual Report Shows 36.7 Million People affected by more than 3,500 power outages in 2017

Underscoring the critical need for disaster recovery planning for businesses across the United States, power management company Eaton today announced the release of its Blackout Tracker Annual Report for 2017. This year’s report found that in 2017 nearly 27 million people were affected by 3,526 blackouts lasting an average of 81 minutes per power outage. While California topped the list of states with the most interruptions for the ninth consecutive year, power failures impacted individuals and businesses in all 50 states.

“The Blackout Tracker Annual Report shows the scope and severity of power outages across the country, leading to widespread damage and significant consequences for businesses,” said Mike DeCamp, senior marketing communications manager, Power Quality Division, Eaton. “With the number of people affected by pervasive electrical power outages, surges and spikes continuing to rise each year, it’s more critical than ever to develop a disaster recovery plan with reliable power protection to avoid detrimental downtime.”

Blackout Tracker Annual Report data is based on a full year of reported power outages across the U.S. and is organized into three sections: an introduction to power outages and the impact of downtime, an overview of national power outage data, and power outage data by state. Eaton’s Blackout Tracker report features top outage lists, including the most significant reported outages, largest data center outages and the most unusual causes for outages.

Among the most unusual causes of power outages in 2017:

Bradford, Illinois: On June 11, a tree branch, rotted from beehives and honeycombs inside, broke off and landed on power lines. Crews had to find a way to remove the state-protected insects without harming them, and were forced to wait for the arrival of state agency employees.
Grand Haven Township, Michigan: On Sept. 19, a sailboat’s mast hit an overhead wire in a swampy area on the Lost Channel, catching fire and resulting in a 75-minute blackout.
Felton, Delaware: On Dec. 12, a tractor-trailer truck carrying a load of chickens cut electricity to area residents and snarled traffic after the flock escaped.

The costs associated with power failures have continued to rise. Although power failures are commonly due to weather and unforeseen events, uninterruptible power systems (UPSs), generators and power management software solutions are designed to deliver reliable power during outages so data centers stay up-and-running.

Eaton has tracked power outage information since Feb. 16, 2008. Data for the report is taken from broadcast news reports, newspapers, websites (including those of newspapers and TV stations) and personal accounts.

To download the entire report and track power outages across the U.S., visit switchon.eaton.com/blackout-tracker

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See the origial article at:  http://www.eaton.com/Eaton/OurCompany/NewsEvents/NewsReleases/PCT_3336328

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Knowledge is power management when it comes to standards

Differing IEC, ANSI requirements can impact compliance.

Sherry Rollins, Schneider Electric   03/22/2018

According to the International Energy Agency's New Policies Scenario, global energy needs are expected to expand by 30% by 2040. This is the equivalent of adding another China and India to today's global demand. Of this, electricity will constitute 40% of energy consumption worldwide by 2040. At the same time, electricity prices are increasing. Per the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in the U.S. alone, the average retail price of electricity has risen about 1.5% per year between 2006 and 2016.

Because of this, there is an increasing worldwide demand for companies to leverage their global footprint more efficiently, improve processes, and reduce bottom lines. This is easier said than done. In the complex electrical engineering industry, systems standardization can lower costs and risk at the regional level, but create complications globally: each country has its own rules, regulations, and standards. As the use of equipment developed in different countries and manufactured by different vendors continues, it is critical to bridge the gap between differing standards to properly design and coordinate an electrical system.

Double standards

There are two major standards bodies: the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which is the prevailing standards body in North America and some select other regions, and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which is used in much of the rest of the world. Each takes a different approach to developing and approving standards. These different tactics in the development stages drastically alter the design and testing of equipment. For instance, as a regional standard, ANSI follows the criteria for design, installation, and performance in alignment with the legal and liability environment in North America. As such, ANSI standards are tied closely in with building and safety codes, allowing for certain oversight and inspection to take place.

Since IEC standards are applicable worldwide, across many countries where local practices, codes, and legal environments vary drastically. The standards are performance rather than safety-based. There are, however, some regions that follow more strict requirements compared to the IEC standards, such as the United Kingdom.

The history

IEC was developed in June of 1906 as a global standards body for the world's electrotechnical industries, including government, academia, end-users, and more. The standards were an answer to early 20th century electrical engineers' needs for closer collaboration, embracing terminology, testing, safety, and internationally-agreed specifications. While the 19th century had been the era of electrotechnical innovation, the emphasis was now on consolidation and standardization. There was concern in the 20th century for electrical units and standards. More than a decade later, ANSI and the U.S. voluntary standards took shape in the form of a group meeting. Five organizations, the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, and the American Society for Testing Materials joined together to establish an impartial national body to coordinate standards development. The U.S. Departments of War, Navy, and Commerce were invited to weigh in and join as founders. ANSI was originally named the American Engineering Standards Committee (AESC).

Initially, the AESC identified safety standards for the places people were spending most of their time. Many standards were aimed at preventing hazards in the household or workplace. The standards later expanded to include industry, government, and other sectors. With the expansion of the programs, ANSI's identity also had grown and needed a new name. ANSI adopted its present name in 1969.

Usage: design vs. performance

When designing and specifying equipment, understanding the differences across these standards and within each region is critical, and there are several points to consider:

  • If applying equipment outside of its typical region-for instance, installing foreign-manufactured infrastructure within a U.S. building (a practice becoming increasingly common)-remember that the product may have been designed by different standards (unless it was specifically created for the U.S. market by an overseas vendor). As such, it may need to be substituted once you determine how it fits into the region you are in.
  • Within the ANSI, as a design-based standard, most manufacturers' equipment will vary little from one another. This includes the specified thickness of sheet metal, paint color, barriers, and other features to ensure consistency.
  • On the other hand, IEC-standardized equipment must meet the same testing and performance requirements-no matter the design. For instance, the standard may require a specific degree of compartmentalization, but how this is achieved may vary by product or manufacturer. This means there is more freedom for those abiding by IEC standards in being innovative and creative in their design of equipment.
  • Electrical testing and ratings between IEC and ANSI are not necessarily the same or equivalent, and equipment may not pass respective tests. This is the case with temperature rise testing and enclosure ratings.

The key for global companies is to acknowledge and educate themselves on these standards to ensure equipment and systems comply. Understanding that each product may be slightly modified or have different available ratings based on the requirements and applicable standards for each region in which it is being applied is critical.

With global energy consumption skyrocketing, and companies fighting to keep up while keeping their bottom line down, it is more important than ever to have fully compliant equipment and systems. A full grasp on standards will provide knowledge and offer peace of mind.

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See the origial article at:  https://www.controleng.com/single-article/knowledge-is-power-management-when-it-comes-to-standards/6e9faac6eac17d8d50c346c00b0f4c52.html

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NEMA White Paper Evaluates Surge Susceptibility of Electrical Components

The technical committee on low voltage surge protective devices tested a variety of devices against nine different surge wave forms.

The effects of voltage surges on electrical and electronic equipment are difficult to characterize in a way that relates to real-world working conditions, but questions such as, ‘How many surges does it take to damage my equipment’ or ‘how much longer will my equipment last with and without surge protection?’ arise with almost every application. Although there are testing standards in place, those tests normally are conducted under standard lab conditions and don’t address the variable effects of temperature, power quality and other important factors.

The Low Voltage Surge Protective Devices technical committee at the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Rosslyn, VA, was asked to look at the issue and provide an overview of electrical and electronic equipment surge susceptibility. This week the committee released a report on its findings.

The new white paper, “NEMA VSP 1-2017 Susceptibility of Electrical and Electronic Components to Surge Damage,” looks at the surge effects of several common pieces of electrical equipment including incandescent, fluorescent and LED lamps, control transformers, variable frequency drives and uninterruptable power supplies. The devices were tested against nine different surge wave forms at certified testing laboratories in a setting recreating a real-world surge environment. The paper presents a table showing the number of surges of a particular type each device withstood before failure.

“This white paper helps the electrical community—engineers, consumers, and technicians— understand the various transient conditions to which electrical and electronic equipment may be subjected. The intent is to create awareness and offer guidance based on real-world testing on protection that will be helpful to preventing problems with products,” said James Moellmann, director of Standards/Application Engineering at MVC–Maxivolt, and chairman of the NEMA 05VS, Low Voltage Surge Protective Devices, Technical Committee.

Here's the report (PDF): Susceptibility of Electrical and Electronic Components to Surge Damage


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Batteries Out-Distance Gas-Burning Generators


From southern California to Arizona, energy storage units are popping up to make renewables more available when power demand peaks.

Electric batteries linked to renewables can be cheaper than conventional natural gas burning peaker generators, the workhorses of the utility sector in periods of high power demand.

Utilities are scrambling to deploy batteries at a fast clip as a result, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Tucson Electric Power is building a 100-megawatt solar installation backed up with 30-megawatt capacity energy storage facility.

Meanwhile, Fluence Energy, a joint venture of Siemens and AES, is building the largest lithium ion battery in the world that will provide backup power to 60,000 southern California homes, the Journal reported. That battery is triple the size of a mammoth energy storage installation Tesla recently built in Australia.

This trend of changing out energy generation infrastructure in favor of green, climate-change fighting sources of renewable energy is accelerating.

“It really is a substitution for building a new peaking-power plant,” John Zahurancik, chief operating officer of Fluence, told the newspaper. “Instead of living next to a smokestack, you will live near what looks like a big-box store and is filled with racks and rows of batteries.”

Peakers, as their name indicates, are used in times of peak demand for power – such as late afternoon on a hot summer day.

Peakers fired by natural gas have been popular because a glut of cheap gas has flooded energy markets from recently developed shale fracking techniques.

But utility experts say one-third of today’s fossil fuel peakers in a decade could be replaced by solar and wind generation tied to electric batteries.

“The federal government estimates that a new gas-fired peaking plant could generate electricity for about $87 for a megawatt hour, including the cost of building the plant and buying fuel,” the Journal reported. “By comparison, Xcel Energy’s Colorado subsidiary recently ran an open solicitation and received 87 bids for solar-plus-storage projects at a median price of $36 per megawatt hour, one of the lowest such bids to date.”

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NEMA Publishes Comprehensive Catalog of Electrical Standards


The catalog is a useful guide to the industry generally and the work NEMA does developing and supporting standards.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Rosslyn, VA, has released the 2018 edition of its Electrical Standards & Products Guide, a comprehensive listing of NEMA electrical standards and technical documents. The guide covers 56 product categories such as lighting, motors and generators, wire and cable, medical imaging, and enclosures, as well as a directory of NEMA members and their products.

“NEMA standards provide our industry with the most up to date technical information for engineers, installers, and customers,” said Greg Steinman, chairman of the NEMA Codes and Standards Committee and manager of Codes and Standards at Thomas & Betts. “These standards provide the technical performance levels expected for the equipment we manufacture, and the information in this guide allows our customers to make electrical equipment purchasing decisions that meet or exceed expectations.”

This is a useful guide to the industry and the extensive standards work NEMA does to make electrical equipment safer and easier to use.

You can download a copy here: 2018 Electrical Standards & Products Guide

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