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Tool Will Help Facility Managers Assess Blackout Risks

Linda Hardesty

New YorkAtmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) has formed a strategic alliance with The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company (HSB) to create a service that will help facilities assess and manage the risk of energy blackouts.

Electrical blackouts in the US cost businesses and consumers more than $100 billion annually, according to AER, which says the market lacks a widely available and dependable tool to calculate the financial consequences of power outages.

“The intent of our work is to be able to state for the first time what the chance is of a significant interruption of service from a natural event or from the aging of the grid itself,” said Kyle Beatty, senior vice president with AER.

HSB and AER are commercializing the blackout risk data and technologies that the firms have built, calibrated and applied within their businesses over the past decade.

From the energy manager’s point of view, Beatty said the service would be relevant to understand the likelihood of a power outage and how best to ensure backup power resources to sustain continuity. Also, energy and risk managers should consider where to locate backup facilities so they are not susceptible to the same blackouts.

Another possible use of AER’s and HSB’s blackout assessment services might be to evaluate the role of diversification of energy sources at a location, for example, whether it’s a good investment to deploy a backup generator or rooftop solar.

In November 2012, Hurricane Sandy cut power to millions on the East Coast, causing a flurry of interest in backup power generation.

Photo credit: Andre Pierre’s Flickr photostream



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