Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What Would a Random Power Outage Cost You? You Might Be Surprised

Guest post by Stephanie Gross

What would a random power outage cost you?  Think about all of the important things in your house that require energy to run. Whether it is your hairdryer, television, microwave, or air conditioner, we know you’re dependent on energy for day-to-day tasks and you can’t afford to do without it.

As our reliance on household energy gradually increases, so does the risk of losing power at any given moment. And, on top of that, the U.S. suffers more blackouts than any other developed nation. According to Eaton’s Blackout Tracker Report that was just released, 14.2 million people were affected by power outages throughout 2014. The report includes 3,634 outages that occurred across the country, a 12% increase from that of last year. These are just the reported outages.

The report highlights top significant outages that were unusual and had the most lasting effect.

  • In Georgia a parking attendant gave the keys to an Audi A7 to the wrong customer accidentally and instead of pointing out the mistake the person took the car and crashed into a power pole.
Result: 4,800 residents without power.
  • In Hawaii, a chicken got into some co-op equipment at a switchyard and tripped the circuit breakers.
Result: Half the island without power.
  • In Florida, a fire truck ladder got hooked on power lines and pulled them down causing an outage.
Result: 400 residents without power

2015 is no different. So far, the longest reported blackout was on April 18th in Richmond, Virginia, when squirrels caused a three-day power outage after snacking on some power lines.
The day before that, April 17th in Houston, Texas, 78,000 residents were out of power after a thunderstorm knocked down trees that resulted in major outages. On April 6th, 79,000 lost energy for four hours when an insulator failed in a substation.

These are not rare. Eaton’s blackout tracker shows reported blackouts as they happen. In the past weekend alone, here’s what happened: 
  • 45 people were affected for an hour for unknown reasons in Indianapolis, IN.
  • 3,600 were affected by a garbage truck crashing into a power line in Lauderhill, FL.
  • 2,800 were affected for 2.5 hours by a fire in Marinette, WI.
  • 991 were affected by a fire in Scranton, PA.
  • 1,500 were affected for 9 hours by a fallen wire in Lincoln City, OR.
  • 2,000 were affected for unknown reasons in Kansas City, MO.
  • 12,404 were affected by storms that hit Oklahoma City, OK
  • 1,000 were affected when heavy rainfall cut power in Harrison Country, TX.
  • An unreported number of people were affected 4 hours for planned emergency work in Dallastown, PA.
  • 14,000 were affected when a man crashed into a power pole in Tampa, FL.
Do these places sound familiar to you? Are they near your house? Or maybe you’re one of the 38,340 people who were affected this past weekend by a variety of different causes.
Whether it’s the weather or a freak accident, when a black out hits, it will leave you and your loved ones in the dark. Who knows what you’ll lose. It’s important to be prepared and have a plan for when it does.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Are You Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

Guest post by Jenna Clarke

Living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the thought of being prepared for a natural disaster rarely crossed my mind three years ago. Although we have snowstorms and occasional flooding, we are not in a tornado alley and have only experienced the most minor earthquakes. Natural disasters can sometimes seem more of an inconvenience than a serious threat.

But last week, while I was visiting a local farmer’s market, I noticed dark clouds gathering across distant hills and I was reminded of a weather event that hit the east coast unexpectedly on a beautiful June day in 2012. On that particular afternoon, I was driving through the rolling hills of Southwest Virginia to visit family and friends at a picnic. It was a bright and calm day – I had the windows down and was taking my time along the windy country roads.

I had barely registered the dark clouds lining the horizon when I noticed the wind picking up and felt a faint chill in the air. I rolled up my windows as the first raindrops fell. Suddenly, the sky turned ink black and the wind blew the trees so hard that they bent sideways. Branches snapped; I heard a loud pop and saw a bright flash as a tree fell 10 yards ahead of me across the road, taking down a power line with it.  I pulled into the closest driveway and spent the next five minutes in terror waiting out what I thought was a freak tornado, but was actually the derecho of 2012.

Photo Attribution: "6-29-2012 Derecho" by NWS/Storm Prediction Center - NWS/Storm Prediction Center. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:6-29-2012_Derecho.jpg#/media/File:6-29-2012_Derecho.jpg

 After the storm, millions of Virginians were left without power or running water for almost a week. We lost everything in our refrigerator and hundreds of dollars worth of frozen meat and vegetables. Worst of all, the storm came amidst a heat wave and our vegetable gardens withered and died without water. And similar outages happen every year following ice storms, heavy snows, hurricanes, floods and other forces of nature that are difficult to prepare for because we have not experienced them.

So how to avoid losing so much during an emergency?

Gas generators are an option and certainly one that can fulfill your emergency needs. But how about considering a long-lasting, sustainable solution like a solar powered generator? The SUNRNR is an off-grid solar backup that provides electricity from stored energy in a rechargeable battery so you can use it day or night, in sunshine or in rain. It can run your well pump (SUN240) or appliances (SUN110) during power outages. Even better it can be used safely and cleanly beyond emergencies, to power your cabin, outbuilding, or greenhouse without noise, emissions, or gas storage.

Find out more about the SUNRNR and how to be prepared for natural disasters with back-up solar power here: http://www.sunrnr.com