Heat Wave + Power Outages: Will Your Business Be Cool?
A Prolonged Power Outage During a Heat Wave Would Result in Loss Of Business And Even Greater Loss Of Life!
The people who call the Southwest home, whether to avoid cold winters in other regions or maybe they just love life in the desert, are well aware of the current heat wave. The heat has its grip on areas like Phoenix, Las Vegas and even Florida. It is July, the middle of the summer, but are you prepared if a power outage hits, or safe? How much would it cost you if your business wasn’t cool and customers were left in the dark? And how many would die if an outage lasted for days in the region?
Brian La Rue
| 7/25/2023 3:04:54 PM
Temperatures are forecast to continue to challenge the record books while folks set records for electricity demand in efforts to cool off. Don’t count on the power grid! Make your own luck and get an industrial, standby generator so you can be one of the cool shops or restaurants, never missing a beat when the power grid crashes.
There are only a few places I think of going when it gets hot. Who else—air-conditioned bars and restaurants, maybe a mall, bowling alley or movie? Then there’s the beach, lake or water park, but at 110+ degrees for weeks at a time, indoor activities start looking better and better. But what will happen to people if an outage hits?
Experts worry about the continued heat and energy demand increase could cause a power outage. That formula of heat and a power outage could feasibly kill thousands of people and send even more to the emergency room.
“A blackout during a heat wave is probably the most threatening climate event we can imagine,” said Brian Stone Jr., the lead author of the study and a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of City and Regional Planning.
Phoenix city officials and electricity providers say the power grid is reliable, but given the growth of the area, age of the infrastructure and increased demand, are you sure you want to count on them?
Yes, they admit the risk of a grid failure is heightened during a heat wave like this current one. Two-thirds of North America is at risk of energy shortfalls this summer, particularly during periods of extreme demand, according to a report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.
Meanwhile, 100 million Americans are under heat alerts as temperatures cook much of the Lower 48. In addition to the Southwest, where temperatures could climb as high as 130 degrees (Death Valley, record is 134 degrees in 1913), the nation’s three most populous states — California, Texas and Florida — are facing triple-digit temperatures. The extended duration of the current heat wave is setting records.
“We can call it [power outage/heat wave scenario) overly dramatic, but we’re breaking local and global heat records every day now it seems, so we have to take it seriously,” said Michael Webber, a professor and energy expert at the University of Texas at Austin. In Phoenix, he said, the grid is “robust,” but the stakes for failure are high.
The study’s researchers also simulated what would happen if the residents of Phoenix, Atlanta and Detroit were struck by a heat wave and a complete blackout that lasts 48 hours before power starts to be incrementally restored. The outcomes were deadly.
“Phoenix has a resilient electrical grid, there’s no doubt about it,” Stone said, back at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of City and Regional Planning. “But they really haven’t prepared sufficiently for that low-probability but very high-impact event.”
Meanwhile, power grids will face increased demand for electricity during the summer months while being stressed by these heat waves, hurricanes and wildfires. Since 2015, the number of major blackouts — power outages lasting more than an hour and impacting more than 50,000 customers — have more than doubled, according to the study. Electric grid failures likely contributed to hundreds of deaths and thousands of emergency room visits during the historic 2021 Pacific Northwest heat wave, the study said.
In a statement, Mayor Kate Gallego said the outage scenario presented in the study is “extremely unlikely” to occur and did not consider existing emergency management resources. “We are lucky to have a very reliable electric grid in Arizona and city personnel who work day in and day out to ensure we’re prepared for complex emergencies, she said.
The Salt River Project and Arizona Public Service, the two main electricity providers in Phoenix, also said they are ready to handle the extreme heat, using power derived from hydropower facilities, natural gas plants, nuclear reactors, wind farms and other sources.
The Salt River Project is forecasting demand that could exceed the record set last year, but the utility is confident it has enough capacity to meet that demand, according to Pam Syrjala, the director of supply, trading and fuels.
We can help with standby power so your operation stays cool in the event of a power outage. Generator Source offers generators ranging from 20 kW to 4,000 kW that run on diesel and natural gas. These units can power standby power to run a local restaurant while larger units can power a hospital or a downtown high rise. Click here to get started or call (866) 518-1240 to speak with an expert who can find the right fit for your operation.
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