Why College and University Campuses NEED to Invest in Backup Power

Soon enough, the cost of a prolonged power outage will far outweigh your investment in a standby generator.

Winter in Canada has been hellish already this Year 2020. Some parts of the country have already experienced prolonged outages. And with unexpected blizzards, snow squalls and ice storms hitting many areas, it is important to stay proactive and protected against potential emergencies.

With that being said, it is certainly the responsibility of university and college campuses to ensure the safety and well-being of their students, in addition to providing them the resources they need to be successful.

When it comes to keeping the lights on, there are two main reasons higher education facilities need to consider backup power1 - that of which we’ll discuss below.

The maintenance and backup of IT networks and servers are fundamental to the current landscape of campus learning.

To succeed in growingly competitive university campuses, students require 24/7 access to resources. If the IT infrastructure were to go down, even for a day - it could result in dire consequences to student learning in addition to creating unexpected financial ramifications.

During a prolonged power outage, the entire LMS (Learning Management System) could be in jeopardy. Students would not be able to submit assignments, do research, collaborate, or communicate with faculty. Furthermore, it could result in a huge data loss if the servers are not backed up properly2. Data loss is actually one of the most common setbacks faced by IT departments after outages (I even asked my own IT department to verify this).

Essentially, the campus runs the risk of suspending business operations for an indeterminate amount of time.

Beyond the scope of IT, aging infrastructure and outdated technologies are also a threat to efficiency and safety.

It can be tough navigating the cost of implementing new tech versus the consequences and risks associated with outdated tech. Some people are of the mindset, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” — but is it really wise to wait until something breaks?

This is further emphasized when you consider that most Canadian post-secondary facilities are hundreds of years old. For example, Western University suffered an outage as recently as 2010, and the city of London had another in 20173 — all of this over a suspected cable fault.

Situations like this are best mirrored in the manufacturing industry. Those in production refer to this as Reliability vs Maintenance, with campus resources being offline equating to having downtime in production.

To mitigate against these potential risks, campuses should absolutely elect to install a standby generator unit.

These standby units come complete with ATS (Automatic Transfer Switch) that will sense any disruptions to your power supply and kick in within seconds. The systems are quite robust, allotting you the option to power an entire campus or select buildings. This is especially appealing for campuses that house public resources like hospitals, libraries and community centers. At minimum, there is simply great value in reinforcing your IT infrastructure.

Locations in Northern Ontario are particularly at risk for serious power outages, as ice storms have already hit places like Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay and Sudbury. Ice accumulation on power lines and electrical equipment, when paired with treacherous roads, could result in outages lasting days.


At the end of the day, we need to consider the cost of NOT operating over the investment in backup power and upgrading equipment.

With growing competition within the education system, students are not only looking for a top tier curriculum, but also top tier facilities.

Taking ROI into account, the decision to implement a standby generator unit should be apparent. Students, faculty, and even parents will have peace of mind knowing their education is being prioritized.

If you would like to speak with me about the types of solutions we could generate for your campus, simply contact T&T Power Group today.

1. What Causes Power Outages on Higher Education Campuses?
Ed Spears-Ed Spears- Eaton - https://edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2019/03/what-causes-power-outages-highereducation- campuses

2. Could We Survive a Long-term Power Outage?
Sherry Hewins - https://owlcation.com/stem/The-Power-of-Electricity-What-Would-Happen-if-the-Lights-Went-Out

3. Winders, Jason. “Campus Power Restored after Area Outage.” Western News , 3 Aug. 2017


Posted by Ron Bougram | Jan 21, 2020 | Categories: Power Generation