Have you considered the costs?

Example: Estimated first-year costs for a 200 kilowatt unit (300 horsepower engine; 40,000 kilowatt-hours) = purchase: $76,400 to $147,200 rental: up to $50,500.

Have you considered the toxic impacts of diesel exhaust?

Diesel soot, or diesel particulate, is the number one airborne carcinogen in California, and represents our state’s most significant toxic air pollution problem. California Air Resources Board estimates that operation of an uncontrolled one-megawatt diesel engine for only 250 hours per year would result in a 50 percent increase in cancer risk to residents within one city block.

Have you considered the other air pollution impacts and long-term effects on the regulation of businesses?

A typical standby diesel generator produces 25-30 pounds of nitrogen oxides (NOx) per megawatt hour of power generated, 50 to 60 times the NOx pollution produced per megawatt hour by the typical mix of California gas-fired power plants. Nitrogen oxides are a smog-forming pollutant. Santa Barbara County just recently met the federal smog standard by a slim margin. If additional smog-forming emissions in our region cause our air to violate that standard again, local businesses will face additional air pollution regulations.

What about permitting?

Backup generators should only be used when absolutely necessary. Some generator installations may require permits, including APCD permits, or land use, fire, or building entitlements, and associated inspections. Stationary diesel engines 50 hp and greater require a permit from the APCD.

Is it Worth It?

What to Do Instead

Get Free Money

This is a great time to get a grant, rebate, or incentive to conserve energy, shift power use to off-peak hours, or use renewable energy. See www.flexalert.org/save-energy/business-tips, or www.energy.ca.gov, or to search by type of equipment/funding go here: http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/.

Conserve Energy

Conserving energy is the first and most effective weapon against rolling blackouts. Use timers and compact fluorescents for indoor/outdoor lighting, turn off computers, and copy and fax machines, minimize air conditioning use, and check out the above websites, our energy page, or the South County Energy Efficiency Partnership for more tips and links.

Shift Power Use to Off-Peak Hours

Rolling blackouts happen during the periods of peak energy demand. Using equipment during off-peak hours dramatically reduces your chances of experiencing a blackout during operation?and also may save you money. The search page listed above has information on grants to help with a load shift.

Brainstorm and Plan Ahead

Challenge your organization to come up with a plan for rolling blackouts, and to identify ways to conserve energy.

Use Battery Backup Systems

Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems can keep critical computers and networks operational during a typical rolling blackout, at a much lower cost than backup generators.

If You Must Have Back-Up Power:

Buy or rent the smallest unit you can use, use it only when absolutely necessary, and consider the following options (in this order):

  • A natural gas or propane fired unit with catalytic controls.
  • A natural gas or propane-fired unit with no catalytic controls.
  • A gasoline-fired unit with catalytic controls.
  • A gasoline-fired unit with no catalytic controls.
  • A diesel-fired unit manufactured since January 1996 that is certified to meet EPA and CARB Tier 1 Emission Standards, and equipped with an exhaust particulate filter system.
  • A solar-powered generator.