The number of harsh storms is on the rise, averaging between 70 and 130 per year in the U.S. And in today’s business world, reliable power is more important than ever. Even a brief interruption can mean loss of product, time and revenue.
According to a study by Information Technology Intelligence Consulting (ITIC), 98 percent of businesses reported downtime can cost them more than $100,000 per hour. This cost has risen more than 25 percent over the past eight years, and now more than ever, you should take the extra steps to make sure your power is protected.
At Duke Energy One, we provide long-term backup power and electrical infrastructure support for many large commercial, industrial and institutional customers across the country. We design, build, own and maintain these systems for customers to keep their businesses running smoothly in the event of power outages caused by a variety of reasons – including hurricanes. The Carolinas have suffered more than their share of dangerous or devastating weather in the past few years. Disastrous floods swamped South Carolina in 2015, followed by the arrival of Hurricane Matthew in the fall of 2016. About a month after Hurricane Florence arrived for the Labor Day weekend last year, Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle and began moving north.
When Duke Energy One prepares for a hurricane, our crews receive pages of safety information discussing working in flooded conditions, dealing with wildlife, and driving during and after storms. A lot of planning goes into getting ready for these storms – below is a list (not fully inclusive) of some of the pre-storm prep that our Energy Services response team reviews:
- Safety first – develop safety messages; confirm PPE availability; evaluate vehicles
- Develop customer contact and communication plans
- Establish Command Center and staffing plan
- Document vendor contact information
- Fuel and inspect all sites; complete any corrective actions
- Identify additional resource and material needs
- Secure equipment, fuel, vendors and technicians
- Establish emergency response plan
- Create list/map of sites; track site status and monitor fuel
- Fuel all vehicles, charge phone and battery backups
- Secure strategic hotel rooms and staging plan
- Storm tracking is a vital part of our hurricane prep work and we closely follow Duke Energy meteorologists forecasting.
A Resource Plan is then put into effect and lists our Energy Services customers along with the site address, primary Energy Services contact, and the type of backup power that is at their facility. The Resource Plan also lists out the shifts of emergency contact (available 24/7). During pre-storm, all sites and assets are inspected and tested, and all fuel is topped off. Our customers are all contacted and any corrective actions are taken at customer facilities if issues were found during pre-site inspection. Energy Services then secures and strategically stages equipment and technicians, in addition to fuel tankers and blocks of fuel. Throughout the duration of storm impact, the command center is managed around the clock with facility systems continuously monitored and fuel levels tracked.
A Summary of Storm Impact report is created and customers are notified of any power outages and “saves” (when the backup power is running during a utility power outage.)
A Post-Storm Action Plan is created and site inspections occur again to determine any maintenance or corrective action needed. Finally, the Energy Services team has a post-storm meeting to discuss follow-up with customers, lessons learned and an enhancement action plan.
In 2018, Duke Energy One saved companies during utility power outages 109 times in multiple locations across the country. You can greatly reduce the risk of a power failure by installing and utilizing one or more on-site generators and fuel storage tanks. If you’re experiencing momentary interruptions, consider uninterruptible power source equipment. Backup generators can help with prolonged power outages. The cost of a power outage is unique to your business, and we are here to support with the appropriate solutions.