State of emergency declared in the capital; data centre provider reports trouble with getting all generators up and running; websites down.

João Marques Lima
23 January, 2017

Large parts of Amsterdam were brought to a standstill on January 17 and two people died as a result of a power outage that brought parts of the city’s transport system down, left thousands of households without electricity and forced data centres to activate contingency plans.

Utility company Liander said the outage was originated by a “component failure” at a high tension power station in Hewmweg. The cause of the failure is still unknown.

Power went out at 04:19am, leaving 364,000 homes in and around the capital, including Amsterdam city centre, without energy.

Services were only fully restored by 9am, forcing the police to send out all its force to the streets while it was pitch dark, according to the NL Times.

According to Euronews, the state of emergency was declared as a precaution during the outage.

Vreemd! Tot aan de kruising alles uit, en dan mijn stukje wel electriciteit. Alhoewel mijn koelkast wel begint te smelten #stroomstoring
— Timothy Klaverweide (@TimKlaverweide) January 17, 2017

Trains, metro systems and trams were also heavily disrupted and certain hospitals had to cancel surgeries for the day, universities were shutdown as well as several schools across the city.

According to the Relegraaf, two elderly people died during the outage.

One 83-year-old because it could not reach the emergency services and the other because the outage triggered her oxygen supply to shut down.

The AT5 reports a third death is being investigated after a 75-year-old woman could not reach out to the emergency services after falling ill.

Data centres also felt victim to the outage with colocation company The Data Center Group (TDCG) reporting that its Amsterdam facility had to switch to backup functions.

However, the operator was faced with a faulty A-feed which led to one of the data centre’s generators not to start automatically.

In a letter to customers, CEO Siemon van den Berg, said the mechanical defect occurred in a period of less than a month since the company last tested the system on December 22, 2016.

“This has hampered the single generator to start due to a defective directional control valve which is used for mechanical protection.,” he said.

“This valve ensures that the safety for the mechanical device is turned on, a condition for the unit to start up. This has now been replaced and tested.

Die #stroomstoring zorgt wel voor fijne plaatjes van een aardedonker Rijksmuseum. En een serene rust #Amsterdam
— Bonne Kerstens (@bonnekerstens) January 17, 2017

Other UPS systems and generators were working in accordance with design and, where relevant, they took over the power needs of the data centre, the reads on the letter.

Berg said: “We regret the incident very much and will use the next few days to thoroughly evaluate it and the operation of the emergency plan.

“We find it important to be transparent and fair to our customers and partners because we go for long-term relationships.”

Data Economy has reached out to other data centre players in Amsterdam, including Interxion, Equinix, Digital Realty and Switch Datacenters.

At the time of publishing, only a spokesman for Switch Datacenters was available.

He said: “We did not have any issue with the power outage in Amsterdam.

“We have all power feeds fully redundant (2N configuration) and each power feed was fully operational during the outage.”

Power Outage in #Amsterdam #stroomstoring
— Best Holland Tours (@besttours020) January 17, 2017

According to BNO News, a range of websites hosted in the Amsterdam region were offline during the outage.

This included Netherlands’ largest newspaper’s site, De Telegraaf.

Hans Grünfeld, MD at VEMW (the Dutch Association for Energy, Environment and Water), said: “This is the second major outage in the region within a period of two years with great harm to citizens and businesses and a disruptive effect on the economy and everyday life.”