With the recent ice storm, hundreds of thousands lost power. As of today, only a few thousand are without power. Hopefully, you did not experience a power outage, or if you did, your power is back up and running. During this time period, Utilities Instrumentation Service, like many of you, lost its utility power. UIS lost utility power for four days and felt the pain of the business of that struggle. During this period, UIS saw the Michigan power outage aftermath with the many emergency calls received from facilities. Some were in the same situation as we were, as the utility was unavailable, and they had no backup power.  

Others had Generator backup systems that did not operate correctly. Though the client thought they were covered for such an outage.  

UIS technician performing a breaker repair

Generator Backup

One call was to connect a rental 480V Generator which also needed a transformer to step up the voltage to 13.2 kV. Then connect to their 13.2kV switchgear lineup. This location did have a 13.2kV Generator for backup power, but it would not start up. Once on-site, the client was very antsy about connecting the rental. Our guys slowed them down enough to allow us to troubleshoot the situation. Upon discovering the root problem, replacement Generator batteries were procured and installed. This ended up saving them over  $75,000.00 in rentals, fuel, and labor.


Batteries that needed replacing at a facility

Auto throw-over systems

Some had Double ended substations with Auto Throw Over systems. Another call was to investigate why power was out in some of the buildings but not all. This site had lost one of the utility feeds but did have their second utility was energized. This was due to a 15kV vacuum breaker not operating correctly. The ATO system did open the main breaker as designed, but the tiebreaker did not close. Upon our investigation, the tie breaker would not close electrically or manually. Fortunately, the site did have a spare breaker that was in operating order. This site did not lose money or any inmates either.

Rather than go on with examples, I encourage you to review your present Generator back up systems, including your ATS’s, UPS systems, and Auto Throw Over systems. These experiences have opened many facilities’ eyes to the importance of regularly performing preventative maintenance and testing of backup systems.

Please Reach out if you felt the Michigan power outage aftermath and need assistance with performing Preventative maintenance, corrective action, or function testing of any of your generator systems, UPS, or auto throw over systems that you currently have. Though not all outages can be prevented, many can be minimized with proper maintenance. Contact Gary Walls via email: gary.walls@teamuis.com

Learn more by downloading our Why, What, When, and Who of Electrical Maintenance white paper.