If anyone needs a reminder of how disruptive hurricanes can be, look no further than Isaias. In July, Isaias became the earliest ninth-named storm to make landfall in the United States, breaking a record set in 1916. The storm’s powerful winds caused one of the largest power outage events ever recorded for a Category 1 hurricane, with over 6.8 million customers losing power.
As Isaias raced up the Atlantic coastline, MDV SpartanNash, one of the largest food distributors to the U.S. military, recognized that its warehouse in Norfolk, Virginia was at risk. The company wanted emergency power backup to prevent losing refrigerated and frozen food supplies. Curtis Power Solutions delivered one of its 70 rental generators (a 1000 kW unit, shown above, including transformer and medium-voltage cable) to the site, ensuring MDV SpartanNash could continue functioning as an uninterrupted food source for military commissaries and post exchanges.
Unplanned power outages can last a few hours or extend to periods of several days or longer. While not every named storm hits every region – and not every power outage is caused by seasonal storms – it pays to prepare for service interruptions caused by the high winds and precipitation of seasonal storms.
Here are four ways to prepare for your next seasonal power outage:
- Maintain and inspect your current system.
If yours is a hospital, senior housing facility or other business where power is critical to life safety, you likely have a permanent standby system. Or perhaps, like the six temporary Covid-19 emergency care sites in Maryland that are using 17 of our mobile generators, you rely on long-term rentals for essential power. In either case, maintain and inspect your system before the season begins. Check your fuel supply well in advance of a storm.
- Install a docking station.
If you are particularly vulnerable to seasonal power outages, a docking station can be a cost-effective option that dramatically improves your time to get back online. With a docking station, a 50 kW unit can be up and running in 20 minutes. A 2000 kW unit can be ready within two hours.
- Call well ahead of time.
If possible, call a week before you need a rental unit. As the storm approaches, demand goes up – limiting the number of generators available. If you wait until the storm arrives, emergency response costs and time can increase as personnel navigate the storm’s effects to deliver and install your rental generator.
- Know your electrical needs before you call.
Do your homework now. Call your electrical contractor to learn the electrical load capacity needed to run your facility. Find out how many amps you need to power specific mission-critical equipment. Knowing what you really need helps to ensure that you get the right size generator – and helps the supplier to effectively allocate generators to all customers in need.
2020 is on track to be one of the busiest hurricane seasons ever, with up to twice as many named storms as in a typical year. As of early August, we have roughly 90 percent of the hurricane activity still ahead of us. If you haven’t yet prepared, now is a very good time to start!