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The cost of a power cut on a business

On June 21st 2017, around 63,000 properties across north Lancashire encountered a power cut. Just a few days later on June 28th, a power-related issue resulted in Edinburgh Airport having to delay numerous flights. Unfortunately, power outages will be something that those in the UK will need to put up with at times — especially when you consider that there’s more than 170,000km of electricity cables to maintain across the nation.

How much are power cuts costing businesses though? Gas cylinders supplier Flogas investigates, as well as advises on what business owners can do to better protect their companies from any unplanned disruption:

How power cuts are caused

A power cut can happen for numerous reasons. Harsh weather conditions are one – in January 2015, one million people across North Eastern Scotland were left without power as a storm struck the power lines. Similarly, in Florida following Hurricane Irma’s path of destruction, 4.4 million homeowners were left without electricity.

The growing gap in electricity supply throughout the UK is also a contributing factor. 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,”.  Alongside proposals to phase out coal-fired power and a lack of investment in national grid infrastructures, power failures and blackouts are expected to become more common.

Then there are the more unusual instances of a power cut, like when a squirrel bit through power cables in Somerset and caused 1,000 homes to be left without electricity. It can depend on where you live as to how many times you’ll be left without power too – the South of England suffered the most blackouts in the UK in 2015 with 124 incidents.

While the majority of power failures will only last for a few hours at a time, there are instances of blackouts stretching across days and even weeks. Regardless of their cause or duration, they are inconvenient and can have detrimental effects on businesses.

A power cut’s cost on a business

A power cut in the UK will last for 50 minutes on average. This may not sound a lot but with a single hour of downtime estimated to cost a small business £800 – it could be very damaging.

There will be higher losses incurred by larger businesses, though they are also expected to recover quicker too. When Google lost their power in 2013, they experienced losses of £100,000 per minute!

The reasons why these losses occur varies. Not having access to electricity can mean that employees cannot communicate with customers and are therefore losing out on potential sales. For an ecommerce company, they do not have access to their website to monitor sales and client requests. There is also the risk of losing unsaved material which can be costly to small businesses.

Ways to decrease how much damage a power cut causes

We are very unlikely to be unable to control how a power cut occurs. However, there are certain steps that small businesses can take to reduce the damage caused from a power cut.

A UPS (uninterruptible power supply) will be a wise investment. This allows a computer to keep running for a short while when the mains electricity has gone off. Often, a warning sign will come up to alert the user that a power cut has occurred – giving them time to save any unfinished work.

Also consider purchasing a standalone generator. This can be used in emergencies for when power runs out, as it does not rely on the working of the grid electricity. If you are considering going off-grid with your power supplies, it is worth considering gas cylinders too.

Draw up a contingency plan in advance as well. This could be a way to inform customers that your power supply is down and you won’t be able to answer queries – this may be on a mobile device.



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