Unusual Causes of Power Blackouts in 2011   5 Mar 2012

Rugby flags and bunting have beaten animals, extreme weather, faulty equipment and vehicle accidents to be named the most unusual cause of power blackouts in Australia and New Zealand during 2011. The flags were responsible for two power outages in Auckland during the 2011 Rugby World Cup celebrations. The first occurred when underground power lines were cut while erecting a flagpole and the second when bunting was flung into above ground electrical wires.

A possum in overhead wires at Hastings, New Zealand, took second place honours when it caused a brief outage affecting more than 8,000 people, while the third most unusual cause of a power interruption was awarded to the large seagull that took down more than 700 metres of power lines at Stanmore Bay also in New Zealand.

In total there were 112 reported power outages which affected more than one million people across Australia and New Zealand during the past twelve months. The average duration of each outage was just over seven hours. The findings are contained in the Australian and New Zealand Blackout Tracker Annual Report for 2011, an annual compilation of reported power outages prepared by diversified industrial manufacturer, Eaton Industries.

The most significant outages for the year were largely the result of natural disasters and weather extremes. The two outages with greatest impact were the destructive Christchurch earthquake in February and an outage due to a fault of unknown origin in Auckland in December. Both affected approximately 200,000 people. Other major outages occurred as a result of Cyclone Yasi in Townsville, during the Brisbane storms and Cyclone Bianca in Perth.

Data centres showed slightly less impact from power outages in 2011 with only two centres reporting problems compared to three in 2010. The first occurred at the Polaris data centre in Springfield, Queensland when mains power was lost for a number of hours and the facility did not move to redundant supplies. The second involved Virgin Blue's data centre and resulted in interruptions to the company's check-in and online bookings systems.

“Data centres are the focal point of IT and business activity, so when a data centre is not operating, many businesses simply cease to function. This means the financial effects of even a brief outage can be significant,” says Michael Mallia, Senior Product Line Manager Power Quality - Asia Pacific Electrical Sector, Eaton. “Companies should look very carefully not just at their own power protection plans but also at whether their data centre is properly equipped with surge protectors, uninterruptible power supplies and generators. It's simple risk management. ”

New South Wales reported the greatest number of outages (27) followed by the New Zealand South Island (21), Queensland (20), New Zealand North Island (15), Western Australia (12), Victoria (10), South Australia (5) and the Northern Territory (2). No outages were reported in the Australian Capital Territory.

To download the entire annual report, please visit www.eaton.com/blackouttracker . To learn about Eaton’s line of power quality products and services, visit Eaton’s Web site at www.eaton.com/powerquality





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