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Expert Column: Standby Power Systems Protect Grocers’ Profits


Since 1990, the demand for electricity has risen by 400 percent in the United States, according to a study completed by Generac Power Systems. The result is an increase in frequency and severity for power outages.

The same study reveals that nearly 219 million utility customers spent more than 220 million hours without power in 2014. Two million of these utility customers experienced a power outage lasting eight hours or longer, according to global insurer Allianz.

Grocery stores are particularly sensitive to power outages. Estimates based on Generac research indicate that grocery stores can lose up to $4,388 per hour, or $196,056 per year, in sales during power outages. Not only are revenue and refrigerated and frozen products lost during a power outage but security, data and personal safety are also at risk.

Prepare for Power Outages

A business continuity plan is essential for all companies, including grocery stores. By identifying the risks associated with power outages and creating a plan of action, grocery store owners can ensure that your locations continue to operate during an outage. This business continuity plan should include a reliable source for backup power. For grocery store owners, an investment in a standby power system not only protects their profits but also secures their reputation in the eyes of existing, as well as potential, customers.

Receive a return on investment: According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, one in four businesses never reopens its doors after a disaster often because of not having the proper processes and systems in place. Additionally, research conducted by the Multihazard Mitigation Council indicates that every dollar spent on mitigation saves $4 in disaster recovery. Often, a standby power system pays for itself in one power outage.

Add protection to business insurance policies: Although business interruption insurance policies can help offset costs associated with a power outage, such policies might not cover all damage associated with a power outage. These policies may not go into effect until 24 to 36 hours after the power outage, so you absorb revenue losses during that period. Plus coverage can be limited and additional riders may be required.

Serve as a community resource: Even if you can recuperate lost revenue, it's difficult to recover lost customer trust or damage to the reputation of your business. As community resources, it's essential that grocery stores continue to provide fresh food and supplies in the event of a power outage.

Select the Right Standby Power System

Grocery store owners should evaluate their power and building requirements before choosing a standby power system. The right system can ensure a swift and efficient recovery immediately after and during a sustained a power outage.

Choose a backup power provider that can assist you with your business continuity plan, identify your risk for power outages and determine the right standby power system to keep your grocery store(s) functioning. A backup power provider can offer a solution that adjusts to your unique application needs, including configuration, setup and fuel type:

  • Configuration and setup: The amount of backup power required will vary, depending on a grocery store's size and how many items you choose to equip with a source of backup power. Sometimes, all you need is a single standby power system to back up your grocery store(s). In other cases, a paralleling standby power system is ideal. With paralleling standby power systems, grocery store owners can choose to invest in only as much they need now, and add more units later. Contact your backup power provider or electrical contractor to determine the amount of backup power needed to keep your store up and running.
  • Fuel types: Whatever your application or regulatory requirement, there's a fuel choice to meet your need. Although diesel-fueled standby power systems were once the norm, many grocery store owners are now finding value in other fuel types such as natural gas and bi-fuel. Bi-fuel standby power systems start on diesel fuel and add natural gas as the load is applied, until the unit runs primarily on natural gas. Both natural gas and bi-fuel-powered standby power systems emit fewer nitrogen oxides and particulate matter than comparable diesel-fueled systems.

A Business Opportunity

Standby power systems not only can protect grocery store owners from the effects of power outages in the present, but also can be a business differentiator in the future. Further, there are opportunities to attract new customers from competitors that close or provide limited services during a power outage. Finally, these systems can demonstrate to customers that their patronage was, and continues to be, the smart choice.

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