Powering Through Uncertain Times with Generac Generators
An unprecedented thunderstorm, called a derecho, recently hit Ottawa in May 2022. Thousands of hydro lines across the city were damaged, 187 hydro poles were destroyed, and 180,000 residents and businesses were without power for up to 10 days. Trees were downed across the city, and properties were damaged. Surgeries were postponed at hospitals. Gas stations suffered fuel shortages, and businesses without power were forced to close. Grocery stores and restaurants lost thousands of dollars in food in a matter of days. The storm caused more destruction and left more residences and businesses without power than the 1998 ice storm and the 2018 tornado that hit Ottawa combined.
As a result of climate change, it’s expected that extreme weather events will only continue to rise. In addition to damage caused by weather, ageing power grids and increasing demand for electricity are contributing to a rise in blackouts across the globe. Supply chain issues and cyber-attacks also threaten the country’s power supply.
With so much uncertainty surrounding such a vital resource, businesses need to be prepared. Many large organizations, particularly emergency services such as hospitals, vital infrastructure such as water treatment plants, and businesses that run large data centres have plans to respond to power outages. Typically, they rely on diesel generators for backup power. In addition to diesel generators, new, more efficient, eco-friendly options have emerged and are accessible to all businesses.
In this blog post, we’ll explore innovative generators manufactured by Generac. Then we’ll look at how two organizations in Canada have successfully deployed Generac generators, with one that resulted in significant savings on their annual energy bill.
Generac is a leading manufacturer of portable, household, and industrial generators, which can run on diesel, natural gas, or a hybrid option. Here, we’ll focus on their business solutions.
Diesel generators are ideal for large backup power applications in critical organizations that provide emergency services. Diesel generators can run reliably for long periods in any environment.
Gaseous generators run on natural gas, which is more cost-effective and better for the environment than diesel, with 90% fewer emissions. Natural gas generators do not require the yearly maintenance that diesel generators need. While they do not provide as much energy as diesel generators, they run longer. Since most natural gas infrastructure is underground, they are more reliable in an emergency where diesel may not be available.
Bi-fuel generators combine the power of diesel with the long run time of natural gas. Bi-fuel generators are ideal in unpredictable environments such as natural disasters or extreme weather events where either diesel or natural gas supplies may be low. As long as one type of fuel is available, the generator will run.
Generac’s generators are highly scalable. Running multiple generators is simplified with their Modular Power Systems (MPS). This allows organizations to start at the minimum number of kilowatts (kW) to meet their needs and increase the number of kW as needed. Any number and combination of diesel, natural gas or bi-fuel generators can be utilized, providing redundancy to ensure power is always available.
Generac in Action
Generac can find a solution to meet any organization’s unique needs. Here we’ll look at two Canadian organizations that have leveraged Generac generators for their energy needs.
Timmins District Hospital – Saving Lives, Electricity, and Money
Hospitals and other emergency services are the most vulnerable during a power outage. Hospitals need reliable backup power to continue to provide life-saving care to their communities. Though power companies prioritize restoring power to hospitals during power outages, any interruption in electricity can be a life-or-death situation. If an extreme weather event hits a community, emergency rooms can quickly become crowded with those injured in the storm, and combined with power outages, the situation could quickly become dire.
Even in the absence of emergency situations, healthcare resources in many communities are already stretched thin because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and hospitals need to find ways to do more with less. Managing energy consumption is one area where hospitals can see significant savings. Using electricity from generators rather than the power grid can help reduce the additional fees incurred on annual hydro bills. In Ontario, all electricity consumers pay a Global Adjustment (GA) fee. The GA fee covers the difference between the costs required to generate power and the revenue received in the energy market. In some cases, it can make up a significant portion of a consumer’s energy bill.
Timmins District Hospital needed a way to maintain a high level of patient care during power outages while reducing their hydro bill. The hospital implemented a combined heat and power (CHP) solution to help reduce their GA costs. CHP takes the heat created by traditional energy consumption, which is usually released into the atmosphere, and uses it to heat or cool spaces and water tanks. CHP enables consumers to be less reliant on the energy grid by harnessing energy that would otherwise be wasted, lowering monthly hydro bills.
In addition to the cost savings incurred by CHP, the hospital leveraged Generac natural gas generators to assist in “peak-shaving.” The goal of peak-shaving is to save money by using energy from generators rather than the power grid during peak energy usage times when GA fees tend to be higher. With this system, the hospital’s heating and cooling systems are powered by CHP, and Generac generators come on about 20 times a year to power the hospital when energy demands are at their highest. Just two CHP units and two parallel natural gas generators provide the hospital with the power it needs while saving over $1 million a year in energy costs. The solution allows the hospital to remain at full power when the power grid is down, so there are no interruptions in patient care.
PlanKraft Construction – One Solution for Multiple Tenants
PlanKraft Construction owns a multi-tenant commercial building in Toronto. The building’s largest tenant is SYNNEX Corporation, an information technology supply chain services company. For IT companies, data loss can be disastrous, with SYNNEX estimating that just one day without power would cost the company $52,000 in lost revenue.
Data centres have become more vulnerable to disruptions since the onset of the pandemic. Remote workers putting higher demands on servers, fewer IT staff on-site to respond quickly to issues, and power outages can damage an already strained system. Data storage requires high levels of reliability and redundancy, so PlanKraft set out to find a solution to ensure all its tenants always have power.
Due to its lower maintenance levels and constant supply of energy, PlanKraft opted for a Generac natural gas generator rather than diesel. Some of Generac’s other innovative features appealed to PlanKraft. Generac’s control panel platform, Power Zone, has built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LAN, and webserver capabilities, so Plankraft and their tenants can easily control and monitor the generator from any device with an internet connection rather than relying on on-site wired connections.
While we’ve only provided a few examples, Generac has solutions to meet the needs of data centres, healthcare facilities, municipalities, telecommunications companies, educational facilities, manufacturing centres, the oil and gas industry, disaster relief organizations, and the media industry. As a supplier of Generac generators, ROCK Networks can help you find a customized solution to fit your organization’s unique needs. With so many options available, purchasing a generator can be daunting. Generac’s 11 Things to Know When Owning & Operating a Standby Generator white paper can help you figure out where to begin.