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Should You Consider Storm Running?

Have you ever considered operating your existing standby generator(s) for storm running purposes?  Under what circumstances would I operate my generator for storm running? What is the cost to my business of an outage caused by an electrical disturbance?  And just what is storm running in the first place?

Storm running is the operation of a standby generator to isolate sensitive electrical loads from the normal utility source in anticipation of severe weather, before an electrical outage occurs.  These days, there are a number of good quality weather websites which give up to the minute radar displays.  You may even have one of these weather radar sites as an App on your smart phone.

Some customers will elect to start their generating system and separate from their usual utility source when they see bad weather approaching.  This is because they know that lightning strikes, sometimes many miles away, can affect the operation of their production facility, data center or commercial business.  These storms can cause unexpected power loss for brief periods or hours.  One never knows.  And the effects may not necessarily be just in the form of outright outages.  Sometimes the utility voltage quality will suffer, which can cause problems in your plant.  Voltage dips & swells can wreak havoc with today’s complex electronic controls.  If a production line is disrupted, even momentarily, production may have to be scrapped.  The cleanup and restart of the line may take hours and may cut in to bottom line productivity.

However, if a customer can fire up its generator prior to the storm’s approach, they can separate from the utility and operate in an “island” mode for a period of time, until the weather danger has passed.  Then the facility can be transferred back to the usual utility feed.

The cost of the fuel used should be considered as an insurance hedge against loss of production or downtime that outages or poor power quality may cause.

A word of caution, however:  Environmental regulations may restrict a generator operator’s ability to storm run, or the time a generator may be used for storm running.  Check with your environmental permitting authority to determine whether storm running is allowed under your environmental permit, and if so, for how many hours per year.

If you have questions related to storm running, or any other aspect of generator operations, feel free to contact us through the “Contact Us” page.


Thanks for reading,

Ervin–Chief Engineer