WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With businesses losing more than $80 billion each year due to power outages the need for a well-planned and coordinated emergency power system is vital to keep businesses and emergency services operating during natural or man-made disasters, and state incentive programs are effective incentives for businesses and vital public services according to participants at an emergency back-up power webinar.
The webinar was hosted by the Diesel Technology Forum in conjunction with National Preparedness Month, which is conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
"Severe weather and other events impact the steady flow of continuous electrical power throughout the United States and world," said Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum, during the Thursday webinar. "Seven of the top 15 causes of outages are weather-related and these events impact tens of thousands of people."
Schaeffer said power outages cost the average small business $12,500 per day and have an annual cost of $80 billion throughout the U.S. with commercial and industrials losses accounting for more than 90 percent of the losses. This includes the loss of manufacturing ability, loss of data and network connectivity, computer downtime, inability to connect to banking networks and funds availability, and refrigeration and food spoilage.
In addition, power outages have major adverse affects on government operations resulting in a number of problems including disruptions in transportation networks, communications and emergency services.
Power Outages Have Increased 124% In The Last 15 Years
"Unfortunately, the frequency of these events has increased by 124 percent over the last 15 years with an average of more than 50,000 people being affected by each event," Schaeffer said, "including a 58 percent increase in outages in the past five years."
Schaeffer also noted federal analysts have highlighted the vulnerability of the North American electrical grid and predict the U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if saboteurs knocked out just nine of the country's 55,000 electric-transmission substations on a very hot summer day. Also, major events like Superstorm Sandy and the August 2003 blackout in the Northeast U.S. and Canada have highlighted the disruptions and loss of life associated with such events.
Help Is Readily Available To Provide Emergency Power
"Fortunately, there are a variety of emergency power sources available to businesses and governments than can help them continue operations during these power outages," Schaeffer said. "And while there are a variety of emergency backup power solutions available it's also important to note that not one size fits all needs."
Schaeffer explained that electrical generators come in many shapes and sizes, can be stationary or portable, and can operate under different fuel sources - primarily diesel, gasoline, natural gas, propane, fuel cells and batteries. Homeowners would benefit from smaller portable or stationary generators that operate on gasoline, natural gas or propane, while business would be better served by stationary or mobile generators that operate on diesel, natural gas or propane. Contractors or light-industrial users would typically use portable generators that operate on diesel or gasoline.
Pre-Planning Is Vital To Determining Proper Generator Size & Fuel Sources
Jason Kitchel from Caterpillar, which produces generators ranging from 5 to 16,000 kW, discussed his experiences in helping provide emergency power during recent disasters including the October 2012 Superstorm Sandy and the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Kitchel stressed the importance of pre-planning for disasters and emergencies because each business and government agency has specific needs and requirements. He cited the importance of addressing the specific needs of each business with generator specialists and establishing the power needs, generator size, fuel source, generator location and accessories prior to an event to minimize potential disruptions.
Maryland Energy Resilience Incentive Program Expanding To Prepare Fuel Service Stations, Firehouses For Disasters
"Recent storms have not only impacted homeowners and businesses, but motorists and even first responders unable to get fuel at retail fuel locations," said Ezra Finkin, the Policy Director for the Diesel Technology Forum. "After Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast and hurricanes Rita and Katrina in the Gulf, we have seen states provide funding to help fuel retailers provide emergency backup power to keep fuel flowing to evacuees and first responders."
Mike Jones of Maryland Energy Administration highlighted the new program initiated in Maryland to prepare for future outages by encouraging fuel service stations in the state to install stationary generators or prepare for the use of portable generators to ensure the stations can continue to provide fuel to communities during outages.
Jones said the Maryland Service Station Energy Resiliency Grant Program was created in 2013 to assure that fuels are available for both evacuation and home energy use during an energy emergency or disaster. The program aims to achieve this goal by reducing the financial burden on Maryland service stations to become more energy resilient so that Maryland citizens will have access to fuel, including gasoline, diesel, propane, and kerosene when it is needed during emergencies.
Jones said the state awards grants of up to $25,000 per grant to a service station and the grant funds may be used to offset 70 percent of the total cost of the planning, design, wiring and installation of backup power generation. Funds may also be used to offset costs related to the purchase or pre-wire for back-up power generation (portable generators, fixed generators, or in-place batteries) by a Maryland service station.
(For more information go here: http://energy.maryland.gov/Business/fuelupmd/)
(To see the webinar in its entirety go here: http://www.dieselforum.org/social-news/technical-options-and-policy-solutions-for-maintaining-continuous-electrical-power-during-loss-of-grid-power/rsrc/1/rsrcType/Webinars)
Some of the leaders in providing emergency generators include:
- CNH Industrial
- John Deere
- Massey Ferguson
- MTU Onsite Energy
- Volvo Penta
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SOURCE Diesel Technology Forum