Preparing for and Reporting Electric Outages: Options for Businesses
Fort Collins Utilities provides highly reliable electric service to the community, typically receiving ratings above 99.99 percent reliability. However, electric outages do occur and could have an impact on your business.
Light and Power employees work year-round to maintain the electric system and install new technology to continually improve service. When an outage occurs, our top priority is to restore power quickly and safely, 24/7.
Statistically, an average customer in our community sees a short outage approximately every two to three years. While most outages are restored within an hour, we understand that it still has an impact on your business operations.
Learn what your business can do to better protect its equipment and minimize overall impacts.
All customers are responsible for protecting their own electric equipment. Commercial customers, including all apartments, multi-family and triplexes, also are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the electric cables between the transformer and the electric meter located on the building (residential service lines are maintained by Fort Collins Utilities).
Be sure to check with your facilities department or an electrician regarding specifics for your business.
Equipment protection options include:
Loss-of-phase protection, also known as single-phase or phase-loss protection – The most common outage is known as a single-phase outage and can be caused by weather conditions, third-party contacts (e.g., dig-ins), equipment failure and other issues. The loss of one phase on a three-phase motor can cause equipment to overload.
Loss-of-phase protection helps avoid damage to three-phase motors when a single-phase outage occurs. These devices, usually located on the facilities HVAC equipment, should be considered standard for any business with three-phase motors. Similar to insurance, the upfront costs help businesses avoid paying a larger amount to replace the motor or other three-phase equipment after an outage.
Uninterruptable power supply (UPS) – An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is useful for protecting specific loads in your building, such as computers or network servers, and can help eliminate or reduce the loss of important data.
These systems, typically composed of batteries, are designed to provide short-term power in the event of an outage and allow for a more systematic shut down of sensitive equipment. Some devices even have software to help shut down unattended equipment.
A UPS does not provide long-term power but helps minimize immediate losses due to a power outage. UPS systems range from single-point backup (see image) to large battery banks for industrial facilities.
Backup generation – Backup generators provide longer-term power and are a viable option for facilities that cannot be without electricity for very long (e.g., operating rooms, 911 call centers). These systems can work very well, though only if properly installed and maintained.
There are two basic types of standby generators:
Portable, gasoline-powered generators – Outdoor units with extension cords running directly to the appliance. Always run these generators outside where there is adequate ventilation—never inside.
Permanent generators – These units are directly connected to the facility’s electric system and energize the building’s wiring during an outage. A qualified professional or licensed electrician should install the equipment to ensure it meets national, state and local codes and is compatible with Fort Collins Utilities' electric system. Backup generators need to be isolated from Utilities' distribution system.
Improperly installed generators can backfeed electricity into the distribution system, potentially harming electric field personnel when they are restoring power. Permanent generators must be permitted through the City of Fort Collins Building Services.
Excess Circuit Capacity Agreement with Fort Collins Utilities – Some facilities may choose to run an additional power circuit to their business to allow for switching to the backup circuit during an outage. Consult with Fort Collins Utilities staff to learn more about this option.
To report an outage, call 970-221-6700. While Utilities is notified of some outages by system monitoring equipment, customer calls can help pinpoint the location of the failed equipment more quickly.
Unplanned outage details and updates are posted at fcgov.com/outages. You also can follow us on Facebook and Twitter for larger outages or contact your commercial accounts representative for more information.
Once notified, crews typically restore the power within an hour, though some outages take longer. Some customers may be restored before others—we cannot prioritize the order of restoration for safety reasons.
Businesses that receive three-phase power can lose power on only one phase, which can affect motors, see loss-of-phase above. For safety purposes, crews will likely have to cut the remainder of power to the facility before restoring the phase that is out.
Additional electric system repairs may be needed following the restoration of the outage. We do our best to notify you of these repairs, though we sometimes need to act immediately and are unable to provide advance notice.
For more information, contact a commercial accounts representative at UtilitiesCustomerAccounts@fcgov.com or call 970-416-4268.
Reporting Water Service Disruptions or Emergencies
Call 970-221-6700 to report water-related service issues (e.g., water line breaks, etc.).
Information on larger water disruptions will be posted at fcgov.com/outages, though if your facility is impacted or you have concerns, please let us know.