TEXAS - Power Surge Blamed on Lightning

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Sunday, July 30, 2000

Power surge surprises El Pasoans

Event reminds computer owners to protect system

Jodi Garber El Paso Times

A lightning-caused power surge reminded some El Paso computer users Friday night to protect their equipment against forces of nature.

"It's a good idea to have surge protectors. With electricity, anything is possible," said Keith Amspaugh, vice president for engineering at Huntleigh Telecom, a local Internet service provider.

Amspaugh said Friday's surge probably didn't damage many computers. But if a computer was plugged directly into the wall without a surge protector, it could have been damaged.

Teresa Souza, spokeswoman for El Paso Electric, said the surge, which happened about 7:15 p.m., was minor.

"It was instantaneous, so I am not sure if any damage could have been done," Souza said.

Computer salesman Stephen Knight at Computer Renaissance said he had not noticed an increase in repair orders Saturday, but he did notice the surge the night before.

"My friend was on his computer and he was trying to download something, and (the surge) turned his computer off," he said.

Other than losing the download, however, the computer was unscathed.

Amspaugh recommends connecting your computer to an Uninterruptible Power Supply, or UPS, if you are working on really important things that you can't afford to lose.

The device provides battery power that kicks in when electricity stops and would keep your computer from turning off if there is a surge or a power outage. Amspaugh said the power sources cost from $100 to $300 and most computer supply stores carry them.

"When the power goes out, a UPS allows you to save your work and then shut your computer down," Amspaugh said. "They usually have about 15 minutes of power."

Friday's surge was caused by an act of nature, so the electric company is not responsible for any damage that might have occurred, Souza said.

The surge El Paso experienced Friday is different from a power outage, Souza said. An outage is when the whole house goes black and there is no electricity. A surge happens when there is a temporary fluctuation in the amount of electricity coming into the home. Souza said lights and appliances might have turned off Friday because they were not receiving enough electricity to keep them going.

According to the Inwave Internet Technical Support Web site, lightning is the most common cause of power surges.

Because computers are not designed to handle power surges, a surge can damage various parts of a computer.

Some commonly affected components are the power supply, modem, processor and hard drive, the site said.

For more information: www. epelectric.com or www.inwave.com /support.html http://www.borderlandnews.com/stories/borderland/20000730-29290.shtml

-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), July 30, 2000

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