Hurricane Sandy: A Turning Point for Emergency Power?

Flooded building entrance, caused by Hurricane Sandy, seen on Oct. 29, 2012, at the corner of Bragg St. and Shore Pkwy. in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Anton Oparin/

In a span of less than 24 hours last October, residents of metro New York City were rudely reminded of how very close they live to the water — maybe, it now seems, a little too close for comfort. Among the many victims in the water’s path were emergency back-up power systems in a range of environments — from health-care facilities and data centers to office buildings and residential structures. In the worst cases, some systems were swamped, rendering gen-sets useless or too unpredictable to rely on in a critical hour of need. In others, they were temporarily disabled, leading to mere inconvenience.

According to EC&M's February issue, regardless of the venue, the inability of some systems to answer the call — and the problems that followed — has sounded some alarm bells in the industry. New concerns are sprouting that perhaps fundamental assumptions used to design and install back-up power in some applications and locations may be fundamentally flawed.

The EC&M article looks at the venues that were affected, the questions raised after the event, and future designs...