With PG&E planned power outages seemingly imminent, it is crucial for business owners and building owners to be prepared with a power shutoff management plan. Extended power outages put data, productivity, equipment, and revenue at risk.
While timing of PG&E outages can’t be predicted, with proper preparation, you can stay open for business during a prolonged power shutoff.

If I have a generator, do I need to do anything to get it ready for power outages?

Yes.
Maintenance is critical. Generators should be regularly tested. In essential facilities the testing is mandated in accordance with NFPA 110, but in non-essential facilities, the same maintenance regimen should be applied. While robust, tried, and tested, emergency generators have many components in systems that need to work together for them to operate. Furthermore, generators have ongoing operating costs and only provide value when running in an emergency situation, unlike solar storage systems, which provide ongoing value.
Building owners should check to make sure other loads have not been added to the generator without establishing that the generator can support these loads. An overloaded generator may immediately shut down.

There are solar panels on the roof of my building. Can they be used in the event of a power outage?

In most situations they cannot. During a power outage the solar panels system will shut down for safety reasons, preventing the solar panels inadvertently feeding on the utility network. This happens in accordance with PG&E Rule 21, the Interconnection Agreement.

I have batteries as part of my solar panel system. Will they operate in a power outage?

As with solar panels systems, solar/battery systems typically shut down in the event of a power outage, unless the system is specifically designed to ’grid form’. This Will require some additional electrical infrastructure and agreement from the utility
Once the system has ‘grid formed’ the building operates as a micro grid – separated from the macro grid (another way of saying utility) for as long as the microgrid has energy from batteries of on-site renewables, like solar panels, or even a fuel cell.

My company’s servers are backed up to a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). What do I need to consider in the event of an extended power outage?

As with generators, maintenance is critical.
Batteries do decay over time, and they need to be regularly tested.
In many buildings the servers are supported by a UPS and/or a generator. In a prolonged outage, it’s critical to consider HVAC; without cooling that’s connected to emergency power, the server room will be vulnerable to overheating.

What else should I consider when preparing my business continuity plan?

Providing emergency power systems is just part of the business continuity plan. Many outages are short duration, but the planned PG&E outages could leave areas without power for a number of days.
The PG&E Guide provides a very good step-by-step plan. 

Next steps to protect your business or property

CONTECH-CA specializes in working with clients to develop customized plans that will protect data, income, and other assets during extended power outages.
Get in touch to find out how we can help you BE PREPARED.

Resources

Public Safety Power Shutoff Alerts

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