Ice on power lines, fierce winds, and severe cold are the ingredients for winter power outages. For businesses, loss of electricity is more than an annoyance — it damages the bottom line.
The cost? It’s not small. An Esource study found that on average, outages of four hours cost $10,000 to $20,000. Costs can be even steeper for industries that risk product spoilage and must shut down and clean up equipment even if the outage is brief.
Unfortunately, power outages occur all too often. A 2019 survey of commercial and industrial businesses found that 60 percent lose power at least once a year, up from 49 percent a year earlier. One out of five businesses experience a monthly power outage.
In California, the weather is no longer the chief cause; instead it is utilities intentionally shutting off power to customers. Why? It turns out utility wires can spark wildfires. So on windy days when fire threats are high, utilities institute what’s known as public safety power shutoffs, a practice that left millions of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) customers without electricity in October and November.
Not surprisingly, more and more US businesses are considering setting up their own onsite energy systems to keep their operations running when the grid is down. But as the same Esource study found, often they are stymied by lack of information. Where to begin? What are the options and which are best suited to your needs?
Let’s answer these questions by taking a look at the four primary approaches to resiliency from the simplest to the most complex.