Why Your Business Needs a Backup Energy Plan

No business owner wants to spend time thinking about worst-case scenarios. Most everyone would prefer to do the opposite, concentrating their energy on making sure operations run smoothly in ideal situations. Though ruminating on disaster isn’t necessarily productive, a specific level of planning and foresight can be vital when you need to sustain your business during a power outage.

Without proper planning, your business could experience anything from minor inconveniences to catastrophic losses during a power outage. Fortunately, there are a variety of backup energy plans for businesses to help safeguard your operations.

The Importance of Backup Power for Businesses

Businesses rely on energy to power more than just lights and temperature control systems. Energy runs computers that perform functions critical to a business’ operation. It also fuels the internet, which enables business communications and daily operations.

As an energy-reliant nation, we tend to take continual power for granted. Outages are infrequent, but data shows they have become more common during the last two decades. Power outage data from 2000 to 2014 shows a steady increase in the number of grid outages. These increases could stem from a variety of causes, including aging energy infrastructure, the increased frequency of extreme weather and population growth that adds strain.

Business owners can, in some ways, anticipate a power outage. Common causes tend to fall into one of the following categories.

  • Weather-related issues: A majority of outages occur during or after extreme weather conditions. These may include heavy rain, snow, or ice storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and more.
  • Disrupted power lines: Objects that damage or otherwise disrupt power lines can also cause outages. These disruptions may include falling trees, animals, vehicle crashes, general equipment failure, or more.

Despite all the data that helps us prepare, nothing can predict unexpected circumstances. That’s why businesses must create backup plans that can help during an outage.

Effects of Power Outages on Businesses

Power outages can impact your business in several detrimental areas.

  • Monetary loss: Your business can’t operate without power, and this downtime costs you revenue. The scope of an outage-related financial hit varies based on industry. Businesses like grocery stores that rely on coolers to keep their food fresh could experience huge losses, whereas traditional offices may only lose productivity time.
  • Productivity loss: Employees cannot perform revenue-generating tasks when a business doesn’t have power, and this lack of productivity plays into financial loss. Productivity losses may be greater depending on the timing of an outage. For example, outages during regular business hours and weekdays could inflict widespread productivity loss.
  • Damaged equipment: Power outages can damage expensive electrical equipment. If a machine remains plugged in during an outage, it could sustain damage in a brief power surge. Losing one or more expensive pieces of equipment at once could pose a significant financial burden for your business.

The effects of a power outage may be especially severe for businesses with critical power needs. These may include hospitals, nursing homes, manufacturing facilities, data centers, and grocery stores.

5 Power Outage Tips for Businesses

If you don’t have an energy backup plan, there are several steps you can take to prepare your business for an outage. If you have a backup in place, it may be worthwhile to review your plan and assess areas that may need improvement. Here are some tips to protect your business in a power outage.

1. Consider Your Risks

It’s essential to begin your outage plan by assessing the types of risks you may face. Customizing your plan based on specific scenarios can help you make the most helpful and reliable decisions. Ask yourself the following questions when considering risks:

  • What types of natural disasters could we face in this area?
  • How would an outage affect our ability to do business as usual?
  • What essential equipment do we own that relies on power?

2. Identify Your Needs

After considering your risks, think about the needs you may have during an outage. Start by identifying the vital functions you require to operate, including computers, telephones, internet, lights, elevators, badge access systems, etc.

In addition to these needs, consider the types of issues you may encounter in an outage. For example, without power, your break room fridge may allow food to spoil. Or, your security system may shut off and leave the building vulnerable.

3. Consider Energy Backup Options

For most businesses, an energy backup solution like a generator is necessary to address their needs. To avoid overpaying and optimize performance, it’s essential to make sure the equipment you purchase fits your energy needs.

Consider the following questions when identifying backup options:

  • What voltage output will we need to power essential equipment in an emergency?
  • What is our budget for an emergency backup option?
  • What kind of maintenance will each backup option require?
  • What kind of generator fuel makes sense for our budget and location?
  • What kind of building codes do we need to comply with?
  • How long can we go without backup power in an emergency?

Depending on the industry, it may also be advantageous to implement an automatic cloud backup system. Sudden outages can jeopardize unsaved or un-backed-up data. A cloud system can help prevent this type of loss during a disaster.

4. Make an Outage Plan

When you’ve determined your overall needs and identified solutions, develop a written course of action to follow during an outage. This plan should be as comprehensive as possible to provide clear instructions for emergency protocols. Think about the following questions as you develop your strategy:

  • How will you communicate information with your employees and important contacts?
  • Who should be responsible for vital tasks during an outage?
  • What kind of safety measures will you implement during a crisis?

5. Train Employees

Your entire organization plays a role in successful outage management. Training your employees on proper outage procedures can help ensure everyone is ready to adapt. While training, be sure to delegate the following roles and any others you may need, including:

  • Someone in charge of overseeing generator maintenance
  • A person in charge of communication during an emergency
  • Individuals in charge of checking on the office during an outage
  • Somebody to oversee continual emergency training

Develop Your Business Backup Energy Plan With Shipley Energy

No matter the industry, your business depends on energy to perform vital functions. Unexpected outages don’t have to wreak havoc on your operations with an effective plan. Shipley Energy experts understand each business has different backup energy needs. We’re ready and willing to work with you to select the backup energy solutions that match your budget and needs. Whether you’re looking for a commercial generator or assistance developing your plan, we’re here to help.

If you have backup generation or can shut down operations for two to six hours without detrimental effects, you may also be able to save money with our demand response program. Demand response seeks to balance energy consumption during emergencies and can save you money whether emergencies happen or not. For more information about this program or a backup energy plan, contact us online today.

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