Public Safety Power Shutoff: The Power of Being Prepared

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Is your business ready when the next Public Safety Power Shutoff occurs?

Do you have a plan to get your business up and running if the power is out for days?

Emergency back-up power contingencies must be at the core of your business power shutoff plans now that local energy companies may need to turn off power during extreme weather conditions. According to sce.com, “Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) are an operational practice where we [CA local energy companies] preemptively shut off power in high fire risk areas to reduce fire risk during extreme and potentially dangerous fire weather conditions” (https://www.sce.com/safety/wildfire/psps).

ESL’s quick connect manual transfer switch (StormSwitch™) provides a cost-effective solution for municipalities and businesses ready to take action in preparation for the next Public Safety Power Shutoff.

When considering which manual transfer switch is best for your business during a Public Safety Power Shutoff, there are a few factors to consider:

  1. Ampacity Draw/Usage
    The first step in selecting a transfer switch is determining what ampacity is needed to provide power to the building. In the event of a prolonged Public Safety Power Shutoff, will all of your electrical equipment need to be powered or can you get by with only some equipment being operational? If the entire facility needs to be powered, then the ampacity should match the building’s service. In many cases, only a portion of electrical power is necessary for a facility to remain operational during a PSPS. In this situation, the transfer switch ampacity and subpanel would need to match the ampacity proportion needed.
  2. Permanent vs. Portable generator
    A permanent generator works with an automatic transfer switch (ATS). An ATS transfers the power source from the utility grid to the generator in seconds. While minimizing downtime is a huge advantage, an automatic system can be quite costly when considering the cost of the switch, permanent generator, fuel storage, installation, and regular maintenance of generator. A cost-effective alternative for preparing for a PSPS is a manual transfer switch which can allow you to connect a portable generator to your facility during a power shutoff. With a portable generator and manual transfer switch, “quick-disconnect” connections can be established (within minutes) restoring power to your business.
  3. Safety Requirements from Local Jurisdiction
    Local building inspectors typically require all new electrical equipment installed in their jurisdiction to be “Listed” which means the equipment has been approved by Underwriters Laboratories or another recognized test lab. For standby systems that allow portable generator connection, UL 1008 is the proper standard to adhere to. If the equipment is not properly Listed, it may not be accepted by the inspector.

Evaluating a backup system that is suitable to your needs is an important step in preparing for the next Public Safety Power Shutoff. Installation of a manual transfer switch requires some planning, but it can be the difference in your facility being operational versus out-of-business. A PSPS event will last as long as the extreme and potentially dangerous fire weather conditions exist, along with additional time to inspect/repair equipment in the affected area(s) to ensure safe and reliable power restoration. Will your business be the one ready to serve your customers at a time when demand is high?

ESL is here to help you determine which solution is best for your business and what additional options may be helpful. Be prepared. Plan ahead. Learn more about manual transfer switches and how you can keep the lights on during a PSPS event.

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