CHICAGO, Aug. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Tripp Lite, a world leader of manufacturing power protection equipment, announced Com Ed's struggle to meet the need for power on peak demand days may threaten the safety of unprotected electronic equipment, especially computer systems. Due to corporate cutbacks and safety problems, Com Ed has reduced the number of working plants, rendering it unable to meet the region's demand for power as customers increase their use of air conditioners and other heavy-draw devices during periods of intense summer heat. In an effort to meet the demand, Com Ed officials have contracted with other utilities to purchase power, if available, at inflated costs. If that option fails, Com Ed will resort to "rolling blackouts" which will randomly cut off power -- without warning -- to neighborhoods ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand customers, for up to two hours at a time. According to the Chicago Tribune, Com Ed barely averted rolling blackouts during a recent heat wave because other utilities could not spare power. A tornado in Toledo, Ohio knocked out the transmission lines that would have fed power to Com Ed. Storms also knocked out some power generating plants, creating a power shortage in eastern states. "Most of the utilities in this part of the country are fighting to serve their own needs and have little or nothing to sell," said Brant Eldridge, executive manager of the East Central Area Reliability Council, which includes 17 major utilities in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and several other states. "Things are really tight." Com Ed scrambled to find utilities with extra power and managed to secure just enough to meet the local demand. Keelin Wyman, Executive Vice President at Tripp Lite, said rolling blackouts are destructive to computer users. "Loss of unsaved data files is a definite result, as well as damage to the internal circuitry and hardware of their electronic equipment. Affected businesses stand to lose money in lost productivity, data and potential equipment repairs." According to Contingency Planning Study, power failures account for more than 45% of computer data loss, and a study conducted by the Yankee Group reports downtime costs the average small business about $1,000 per hour. This amount increases with company size. Even when power is restored, customers need to be wary. "After an outage, power is generally unstable for several seconds, often sending massive surges down the lines which can threaten the life of electronic equipment," said Wyman. Wyman recommends the use of power protection to safeguard equipment from equipment damage and data loss. Uninterruptible power supplies (known as a UPS) provide battery backup to allow work to continue through power outages and low voltage (brownout) conditions or to provide time to save open files and shut down the system. Built-in surge suppression filters out power surges before they can damage equipment. Recently, another setback to the region's supply of power resulted from an explosion at a local power plant. The explosion sent a massive surge down the power lines, causing lights to flicker, clocks to reset, and computers to flash error messages. "This incident is an example that power problems can occur at any time, for a myriad of reasons," said Wyman. "Power problems are unpredictable. It pays to be prepared." A nationwide survey reports that, on average, one surge per day of up to 1,000 volts occurs in every electrical environment, causing equipment degradation over time. Furthermore, a survey published in the USA Today states that 24% of the 1.5 million PCs damaged or destroyed in 1997 resulted from power surges and lightning strikes, amounting to $600 million in damages. Wyman recommends the use of power protection year-round, not just during the tenuous summer months, to counter such losses and preserve electronic equipment and data. He suggests equipment be protected by at least a surge suppressor, which is a lower cost alternative to a UPS system. "Surge suppressors do not provide temporary power, but they do protect equipment from damaging surges." According to a recent survey published in Electrical Systems Design, more than 95% of those studied estimated they received payback of their power protection investment within three years. Compared to the cost of replacing or repairing damaged or destroyed systems, power protection is a cost-effective investment. Tripp Lite has built a reputation as a world leader in power protection solutions by providing enhanced service and innovative products for more than 75 years. Tripp Lite is headquartered in Chicago, Ill., and maintains a global presence with fully staffed offices worldwide. Tripp Lite manufactures more than 300 different power products, including SmartPro(R), DataCenter(TM), Unison(R), Internet Office(TM), OmniSmart(TM), BC Personal(R) and BC Pro(R) UPS lines; PowerAlert(R) Advanced Network Monitoring Software; Isobar(R) Premium Surge Suppressors; Super Series Surge Suppressors; Network Dataline Protectors; and Line Conditioners. Additional information about Tripp Lite and its products can be found on the PowerZone(TM), Tripp Lite's web site, at www.tripplite.com or by calling Tripp Lite's Customer Support at 773-869-1234. Tripp Lite is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.
SOURCE Tripp Lite