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Unexpected Causes of Power Outages

Posted by Kristopher Schwind on Mar 29, 2018 5:12:56 PM

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Most of us expect power outages to occur during severe weather. According to the Edison Electric Institute, roughly 70% of outages in the United States occur due to natural causes. 

 

Here are the top natural causes of power outages ranked by frequency: 

 

  • Wind/Rain 
  • Lightning 
  • Other Cold Weather 
  • Ice Storms  
  • Hurricanes/Tropical Storms 
  • Tornadoes 
  • Earthquakes 

 

As Northeasterners, we’re more likely to see some of these natural occurrences than others (though the minor earthquake that occurred in Westchester County this February reminds us to never say never). 

 

We’ve officially reached the end of March, and you know the old mantra: April showers bring May flowers. So, once we see that summer sunshine on the horizon, why worry about backup power sources? 

 

We’ll tell you why. Power failures occur year-round for residential and commercial buildings alike, and some of the less common outage causes may surprise you: 

 

Wildlife 

 

Surprisingly, aside from severe weather, one of the most common causes of power outages is wildlife interference. 

 

Squirrels, large birds, and other animals cause approximately 11% of power outages in the U.S. by coming in contact with power lines.  
 

 

Fallen Trees 

 

If a tree falls in the woods and there isn’t any weather around to cause it, will it still take out power lines? 

 

Yes. 

 

Utility poles or power lines in the path of a falling tree may be knocked over or compromised in some way, causing minor or major outages depending on the location. 

 

Major power outages are classified as those affecting at least 1,000 people lasting at least one hour.  

 

 

Excessive Demand for Power 

 

Some people wonder why we see an increase in outages during severely cold weather. One cause may be a drastic increase in the demand for power. Temperatures drop outside, and thermostats start clicking up inside. 

 

The combination of heating systems and appliances run by buildings powered solely by electricity on a regional scale can cause power plants to fail, and create widespread outages for entire power grids. 

 

 

The Public 

 

You could argue that the public also creates over-demand for power, but human error can cause outages in much more direct, individual ways. 

 

Automobile accidents—occasionally even construction accidents—may down utility poles and power lines, interrupting the flow of electricity to residential and commercial buildings. 

 

The passionate home gardener may also be to blame for certain outages. Always call 811 before digging to ensure that you won’t hit any underground utilities. 

 

Regardless of how an outage is caused, if you’ve installed an effective backup power supply, you can guarantee that your electricity will continue to run throughout an outage all year long. 

 

Standby generators are an effective way to ensure the lights stay on for both residential and commercial buildings 

 

Make your emergency power plan a priority this spring, starting with a free consultation to see what standby generator can work best for your home or business. 

 

 

Get a Free Generator Assessment

 

Topics: maintenance, safety is key, generator, hazard prevention, generator maintenance, commercial generator, Power Outage, Commercial, Residential

Kristopher Schwind is the proud owner of National Standby Repair.

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