I’ve been in the energy industry for a long time. And I haven’t seen anything like what happened this last year. Working from home, or remotely, we rapidly became very dependent on our power and digital communication tools. Even a “seasoned” professional like myself learned to quickly adopt Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Sugar CRM and PandaDoc. With that rapid growth has come greater fears around losing power in our businesses and homes.
I want to share a picture of where I see our industry at right now and let you know why I am hopeful.
All Eyes on the Electrical Grid
Most of my life I’ve been in California. I see how far we’ve come, and I see how far we have to go. Growing up as a little kid it was beautiful, but driving through Riverside County in the 70s, you could barely see through the smog. I remember in high school, every day in the news we were told the air quality and oftentimes they told schools to keep students inside. By 2000, it was tremendously better. To think that they could clean it up in a matter of thirty years amazes me. The United States really responded. But that was fifty years ago, and schools are now keeping kids inside due to fires from an aging electrical grid. Which means we need to respond again.
Californians are no stranger to power outages from aging infrastructure, fire threats, and heat waves, but the newer threat of a computer hack shutting down an entire pipeline or power grid is amplifying our fears. We now need backups of our backups. And we need to rethink how we protect our vulnerable electrical grid. We’re also entering an age of dependency on electric cars. All of these make the need for a backup generator greater than ever.
Demand is Soaring for Backup Generators
Home upgrades we’re all familiar with include kitchen renovations, installing central air and adding solar, but more and more homeowners have added a new kind of investment to their properties: standby generators. On top of that, California’s solar mandate requires that all new construction homes must have solar power. Because of that, you either need to install a very expensive battery backup or an emergency generator. An emergency backup generator costs less, which is why we’ve seen a major increase in home generator sales this year. With more and more regulations coming in, coupled with our dependency on electric power, homeowners see investing in a standby generator as essential.
On the commercial side, I see even more of the same situation. It’s more than just the average brownouts and blackouts we experience from our utilities. The higher temps from global warming have us under constant threat of losing power. These attacks loom large for hospitals, tech companies, government buildings, airlines, and transportation. Everything in shipping is also controlled by computers, same with the railroad, so they invest heavily in having backup systems in place. We’re quoting a lot of new generator systems to companies that are realizing the enormity of that threat.
Diesel vs. Natural Gas vs. Propane
I’m as concerned about the environment and climate change as anyone. I will admit I fought the idea of global warming for a long time, but I’ve finally come to the realization that it’s threatening us from many directions. I’ve also become much more conscientious about the products I use in an effort to do my part to fight climate change. Customers share this concern about the environmental friendliness of their purchases.
Manufacturers are constantly innovating but right now, for a commercial backup generator, diesel is better. For your home, natural gas or propane are more environmentally friendly. Even if natural gas is shut off in a natural disaster, many home generators can switch to propane easily. There are also diesel exhaust particulate filter systems which reduce emissions tremendously. Every year, the increase in technology is amazing, even for your home. The ability to protect yourself and have an ease of operation is tremendous.
The Future of Energy is Hopeful
Changes in technology are fast, huge, they’re amazing, and I think that’s just going to continue. We can easily dwell on catastrophe when we’re in the midst of it, but time always reveals the bigger picture. After many decades in the energy industry, I’ve seen people find solutions time and again to our biggest problems. I am confident our lives are going to change dramatically in a relatively short time for wind, solar, and electric power.
What changes do you think are coming? Are you hopeful or concerned? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Duthie Power Services believes that everyone should have access to affordable power, so please don’t hesitate to contact us for help getting you access to reliable, backup power.
This post was originally published on Peter Thornton’s LinkedIn page.