Emergency Backup Power - Top 5 Disaster Considerations

    (Provided by Steven Nameroff - Tuesday, December 27, 2016)

Emergency Backup Power

Renting an emergency generator during a natural disaster or other power outage can be a challenging, if not an overwhelming undertaking. When a widespread power outage occurs, rental generators become scarce very quickly.

If you look at the statistical data on the number of businesses that lost power during any of the recent hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc., they numbered in the tens of thousands. Businesses that had an emergency power plan, experienced a dramatically reduced impact to their operations, revenue and profit. 

Preparation is the key to insure your business can secure the rental power, when and where you need it.

Here are some things to consider as you develop your disaster readiness plan related to power:

   - How much emergency generator power will be needed?

   - Do you want to power up your entire building or just certain critical loads?

   - A utility power outage could last from one to ten days or more.

   - Which areas of your facility could be without power for that length of time?

Determining power needs:

The nameplate on your main electrical panel will tell you what the maximum amount of power that could be used in Amps and Volts. Buildings typically use far less than the panel’s rating.


Determine the actual electrical load your building uses by connecting an ammeter on each electrical panel during peak load. The preferred method would be a two week load study to determine max load of electrical panel to be supported with a backup generator.  Knowing the maximum actual connected load will greatly reduce your rental expense in a disaster and increase your ability to procure a rental generator.


Reviewing your utility bill over several months to get an average usage is another way to verify actual load.
Where will the emergency generator be placed? Once the required load is identified, the kW size of the generator can be determined. Portable generators can be as large as a semi-trailer, so placement is an important consideration. Placement of the generator should be as close to the electrical panel as possible to minimize the amount of electrical cable that will be needed to connect the rental generator.

   - Safety
– the rental generator should be placed in a location that is away from foot traffic. Cable ramps can be used to cover cable that crosses sidewalks, but it is best to have it isolated from public access.

   - Security – consider placing the generator and cable in a location that will keep it secure from theft. Copper cable is a prime target for thieves.

   - Electrical Connections – Connecting the generator cable to the electrical panel/s is something that a certified electrician should perform. Power distribution and connections can vary greatly and requires a knowledgeable and competent technician.  

Information they will need to know to make these connections is:

   - Panel make, model, size in amps and volts, and phase rotation.

   - Any electrical drawings can be valuable to the rental generator provider or those making the connections.

   - Distance from generator to electrical panel room to determine cable lengths.

   - Desired amps and volts to be delivered, so that the right cable size can be determined and supplied.


Fueling Of The Generator
– Generators can require an enormous amount of diesel fuel. Your generator rental company can provide you with estimated usage amounts. Important factors are:

   - What size fuel tank does the rental generator have?

   - How many gallons per hour does the generator burn at full load, at half load?

   - Estimate the number of hours per day you plan to run the rental generator and multiply by the estimated hourly burn rate to determine how many gallons per day the unit will consume.

Your generator rental company may provide fueling service, or you may need to find a Fuel Management company to keep the generator running.


Sourcing Emergency Generator Power
– As previously mentioned, generators become very scarce when a disaster or power outage occurs. Having identified an emergency generator power provider well in advance is only one important step to take. All metropolitan areas have generator rental companies, but will they have a unit for you when you call? And, how well equipped and experienced are they in providing generators in disaster response situations?

Some generator rental companies specialize in providing emergency generator power during disaster situations. Being able to supply the information above, will be a requirement of any generator rental company, for them to provide you with the proper equipment to meet your needs.


Some rental companies will have options for you to secure a generator on a Standby Contract, so that the unit is ready for you when the need arises. Some companies have flexible programs to meet your needs, from first right of refusal to multi-unit secured contracts.


Most emergency generator power providers that have experience in disaster response are well equipped to handle all aspects of supplying your power needs, from delivery to cable and connections, to fueling and service.


During an emergency, proper planning is critical to being able to keep your business up and running. Once you’ve taken the steps to prepare yourself for the next power outage, it’s a good idea to keep an “Emergency Generator Power” file with all the important information above in an accessible place for all key personnel.


Included with this information should be your company’s internal contact information with phone numbers and an outline of the procedures to follow to keep your business up and running.

 

 

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