Blackout report reveals 19 per cent increase in power outages

More than 1.7 million people in Australia and New Zealand were affected by 327 power outages in 2017, according to new data.

Eaton’s annual Blackout Tracker Report has revealed overall power outages in Australia increased by 19 per cent, with Queensland overtaking New South Wales as the top blackout state after Cyclone Debbie caused devastation along the east coast in March.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand blackouts increased by 36 per cent, with the North Island faced with widespread snowstorms, a scrub fire and Cyclone Cook.

Eaton Industries managing director Gordon Makryllos said while the total number of people affected by power outages almost halved in 2017, businesses and individuals should still be wary as there was a higher frequency of small-scale blackouts and the average duration of outages (6218 minutes) increased by 39 per cent.

“With almost three out of four blackouts caused by weather, falling trees, faulty equipment or human error – it is clear many power outages are unexpected and often unavoidable, which serves as a timely reminder for businesses to review their power backup and disaster recovery plans to ensure IT systems and data are protected in the event of a power disruption,” he said.

An EMC Global Data Protection Index that surveyed 125 Australian companies found the average organisation experiences approximately three days of unexpected downtime per year, with data loss and other consequences totaling around $70 billion.

“In the current era of digital connectivity and data dependency, the cost of power outages can be significant for any business – in particular those that have data collection technology in locations where recovery processes are complex and hard to reach,” Mr Makryllos said.

“To reduce the risk of data loss, downtime and increased costs, it is important to have uninterruptible power systems (UPSs), generators and power management software solutions that can deliver backup power during outages.”