Sheridan Mayor Worried about Traffic Signal Outages on New Bypass

Josh Berry


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Chesco makes 200 generators available to towns to keep traffic signals working

By Michael P. Rellahan

Posted: 09/12/14

In natural emergencies, sometimes it’s what you didn’t think about beforehand that you miss the most.

For municipalities in Chester County, that can mean the loss of power to essential systems like traffic signals at busy intersections. Significant safety concerns can arise when there are no red or free lights to direct traffic.

County officials recently announced they were making almost 200 electric generators available for specific municipalities to use in the event of a major power outage. The announcement comes during a time when the county Department of Emergency Services is promoting National Preparedness Month.

Purchased through an Urban Area Security Initiative grant secured by the county’s Department of Emergency Services, the generators will be used by 37 municipalities in the county that have heavily traveled routes and busy intersections regulated by traffic lights.

According to a press release, county commissioners’ Chairman Ryan Costello said, “Last winter’s ice and snow storms affected transportation throughout the county like no other in recent history. Even once the routes were cleared of trees and other debris, the lack of electricity meant that travel remained extremely dangerous, especially at busy intersections.”

His colleague, commissioners’ Vice Chairwoman Kathi Cozzone added that the effort was meant to supplement what some municipalities had and others lacked. “As it isn’t possible for many of the municipalities to purchase supplemental equipment that is only used in severe weather circumstances, we are pleased to assist them — and their residents — with these generators.”

Lastly, Commissioner Terence Farrell noted that because of the grant, municipalities will have generators available within their infrastructure stockpile to assist with the powering of traffic lights during a power outage.

“This reduces the amount of manpower that would be needed at busy intersections, freeing up valuable first responder services for other emergency needs,” he said in the release.

The generators were assigned when municipalities were asked to demonstrate the most pressing need for additional generators to be used solely for traffic lights.

DES Deputy Dirsctor Robert Kagel said that the department reviewed a list of the county’s major intersections, and prioritized the distribution of the generators based on daily traffic volume.

“We were pleased to find that the funds supplied by the UASI grant were sufficient to cover all 188 generators that were requested by municipalities,” he said.

Charlestown, North Coventry, Schuylkill, South Coventry, West Pikeland and West Vincent townships and Honey Brook, Phoenixville and Spring City boroughs are among the municipalties that will receive generators.

Originally posted on The Mercury News.

Why a surge protector may not be adequate to protect your IT equipment

A surge protector may not offer as much protection as you may have imagined, especially when the electric grid is physically damaged by a large scale disaster. 

September 3, 2014  | By Paul Mah

The recent earthquake in Napa Country, California, triggered powersurges that caused much damage to IT equipment in homes and small businesses, according to a report at Computerworld. The report noted how surge protectors have apparently been overwhelmed, resulting in connected equipment such as PCs and appliances being damaged.
On the other hand, anecdotal reports told a story of how equipment that is connected to a UPS, or uninterruptible power supply, survived unscathed--save for physical damage from the earthquake itself.  Apparently, the issue revolves around the fact that ordinary surge protectors do not necessarily have the ability to protect PCs from "power swells" or "sags." These are caused by severe earthquakes that physically damage power grid equipment. Swells and sags that originate from problems with the power grid could last hundreds of milliseconds, compared to those caused by lightning, which last only 50 to 100 microseconds, according to power experts. 
"Surge protectors can suppress quick bursts of voltage, but have no internal energy source to continuously correct for comparatively slower line voltage transients," said Colin Campbell, vice president of APC.
Bottom-line: Make use of a UPS on important electrical equipment and computers, due to its ability to rapidly switch to an internal energy source if the line voltage crosses the acceptable threshold.

Originally posted on FierceCIO.

Redundancy: The Key To Keeping The Power On At Your Data Center
August 26, 2014
by Anne DiNardo, Senior Editor

A stable power supply and a temperature-controlled environment are essential to maintaining a data center. In a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, “2013 Study on Data Center Outages,” 85 percent of 584 survey participants reported that their organization’s data centers experienced a loss of primary utility power in the past 24 months. Of that 85 percent, more than 90 percent reported their organizations had an unplanned outage.
In healthcare, this downtime can mean not only lost revenue but the inability to access life-saving information. Outages can occur for a number of reasons, from weather to equipment failure or even an accidental cutting of a power line. The key is to build in redundant measures that can keep a data center running in the event of a failure.
The Uptime Institute, a third-party organization focused on data center performance and efficiency, has developed a tier classification system that sets criteria to withstand a fault and provide a consistent method to compare facilities based on expected site infrastructure performance.
The tier breakdown includes:
Tier I: Non-redundant—This provides an improved data center infrastructure beyond the office setting and includes dedicated spaces for IT systems, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), dedicated cooling equipment, and an engine generator to protect IT functions from extended power outages.
Tier II: Basic Redundant —Building on the previous tier, this facility infrastructure includes redundant critical power and cooling components, such as UPS modules, chillers or pumps, or engine generators, to increase the margin of safety against IT process disruptions.
Tier III: Concurrently Maintainable—This tier adds the capability of no shutdowns during equipment replacement and maintenance with a redundant power and cooling path.
Tier IV: Fault Tolerant—This level adds the concept of fault tolerance to the site infrastructure, meaning that if/when equipment failures or distribution path interruptions occur, the effects are stopped before they impact the IT operations.
For more, visit

Originally posted on Healthcare Design Magazine.

What to do when UPS sizing goes wrong

UPS sizing is hard, with confusing terminology and an ever-shifting IT load. If you get the calculations wrong, don't worry about a Michael Bay movie scene in the data center. Here's what to do when UPS is too wimpy or too beefy for the task.

August 2014 by: Robert McFarlane

The differences between kW and kVA ratings have confused people for years and caused some major misunderstandings of uninterruptible power supply capacity.

What problems will I see if I size my UPS wrong?
Nothing's going to blow up if you miscalculate data center UPS sizing.
If you under-size uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, the problem is obvious. When the data center overloads the available power, the UPS shuts down and should go into bypass mode. The IT load then operates on unfiltered utility power, which is OK most of the time. Modern computer equipment isn't as sensitive as prior generations, which is also why economy-mode UPSes are becoming popular.
However, a UPS in bypass mode affords no protection from a power failure or brown-out, or other significant power anomaly. The data center power design should specify a surge protection device on the bypass to handle any serious transients while you plan a UPS upgrade or replacement.
Oversizing the UPS results in wasted money: the additional capital spend, the never-ending bill for unneeded power and the money spent on cooling a hot, inefficient UPS. When you operate a UPS at 40% load or less, efficiency drops quickly.

A UPS should always be slightly larger than necessary to handle normal growth. Oversizing 20% to 30% is normal and acceptable -- it provides headroom for growth as well as capacity peaks and the short-term parallel operation of new IT systems during an equipment refresh. But, when you oversize by three or four times in anticipation of significant growth, it's wasteful.
If growth is hard to predict, consider some form of modular UPS. That allows you to add units in fairly small increments, keeping capacity in the high efficiency part of the power curve.
The real concern about miscalculating UPS size is with redundant systems. A 100 kW, N+1 UPS, made up of three 50 kW modules, starts out with 33% extra capacity. The extra is only there for redundancy. If you then oversize by 30% (meaning you are running a 70 kW load), you're operating at 70% of the 100 kW design capacity, but only 47% of the actual 150 kW capacity.
Redundant systems are a great use case for modular UPS. With relatively small modular systems, a 100 kW N+1 system built of 10 kW modules is actually 110 kW, bringing efficiency up to 64% with a 70 kW load.
Sizing problems get worse with 2N redundancy, where uninterruptable power systems share the load 50/50. Now that 70 kW load is only 35 kW on each 100 kW UPS, or only 35% of rated capacity. That's typical with full redundancy and a major reason to go modular -- to avoid even greater oversizing. Adding 50% capacity to a 2N UPS means operating at only 25% of the actual capacity on each system -- a terrible spot on the efficiency curve.

Originally posted on TechTarget.

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