Wikipedia defines a Disaster Recovery Plan as follows:
A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a documented process or set of procedures to recover and protect a business IT infrastructure in the event of a disaster. Such plan, ordinarily documented in written form, specifies procedures an organization is to follow in the event of a disaster. It is “a comprehensive statement of consistent actions to be taken before, during and after a disaster.” The disaster could be natural, environmental or man-made.
Disaster Recovery Planning can also take on an expanded role beyond IT infrastructure. Almost every business is dependent on electricity for normal day to day operations. Without electrical power, it is almost impossible to perform the most needed tasks for a business to operate. This can translate to lost revenue, safety issues for workers, spoilage of perishables, equipment damage and many other potential problems. Depending on a business’s location loss of power, can be a sporadic or somewhat regular occurrence.
Many businesses recognize the benefits that reliable electrical power brings to their operations. Some businesses cannot tolerate any power loss, some can tolerate short-duration power losses, and others can simply shut down or operate at a reduced capacity during a power failure.
In business continuity planning for electric power failures, there are two scenarios. The first would be for a permanent on-site electrical power system. The second would be to work with a local rental company and an electrical contractor that could supply a generator and then connect it to the customer loads.
Having a generator on the site can be as simple as having a portable that can be started and then essential electrical loads plugged into it. Or it can be a highly engineered fully automatic backup system designed with high reliability and redundancy. A permanently installed automatic emergency generator system has several benefits. With proper testing and maintenance, you can expect that the generator will automatically provide backup power quickly when there is a power outage. It also eliminates the need to go in search of temporary power and the delays with having it delivered. The only drawback would be the initial cost.
Use of a temporary or rental generator would require an ability to disconnect the utility power feed from an electrical panel and to tie quickly a portable trailer mounted generator into it. To have an ability to connect quickly a temporary generator into a building will take some pre-planning and some electrical work. The pre-planning will be to identify the equipment that needs to operate, a sizing analysis, and a source for the temporary equipment. The electrical work will involve a plan and action to group the desired equipment into a common electrical panel (Or, an ability to turn everything off except the desired equipment). Another desire may be to install a manual transfer switch. The manual transfer switch will allow a quick method of disconnecting utility power to a panel and connecting the equipment to the generator. An additional step to make connecting the generator quicker would be to have a Cam-Lok connection panel. This would allow an industry standard Cam-Lok equipped electrical cable to be quickly connected. (A note of caution in the use of a rental generator; in times of high demand it may be difficult to locate one quickly as they are typically available on a first come, first served basis.)
If an electrical backup plan is desired, there are a few steps that can be taken. The first step would be to assign a responsible party in the organization to lead the investigation. If others need to be involved in any decisions, they should be identified as well.
The next step in planning the emergency electrical needs in a building is to make a survey of all items that need to operate during a power failure. Usually, these items will be business critical equipment such as phone systems, computer servers, printers, emergency lighting and essential equipment should be identified and recorded.
The next step would be to run a sizing analysis to determine the size a backup generator needs to be to power the loads (Clifford Power Systems can help with this analysis). If a rental generator system is the desired method of backup remembers to consider rental rates, the amount of daily hours the equipment is expected to run, freight costs, insurance costs and a means and cost to fuel the generator while in your possession are considered.
At the same time bringing some trusted electrical contractors in to review installation requirements, asking clarifying questions, offering alternative solutions and finally providing some budgetary quotes for consideration will help an organization decide on the feasibility and cost of having an electrical recovery plan.
In a complex installation, it may be necessary to enlist the services of a qualified Electrical Engineer. This may be especially true in the event of a large permanent installation.
Once the generator is sized and budgeted along with the electrical installation budget an overall budget can be developed. A final decision on a direction and timeframe can then be made.
If a permanently installed emergency generator system is installed, the final piece of the puzzle will be to establish a sensible maintenance program to insure the equipment will perform when it is needed.
If a rental option is a final choice some additional planning should be done:
- All rental stores that have the equipment that would be required should be identified and prioritized.
- At what point is a decision made to get a generator and who is responsible for the decision?
- If a power failure is expected to be resolved quickly, it may not make sense to go through the expense only to have normal power restored before a temporary generator can be on site and installed.
- If a predictable weather event is expected making a decision quickly before the event happens is essential. Hurricanes, ice storms, blizzard all create high demand prior to a potential storm hitting. Equipment may not be available locally once the storm hits.
As with any disaster planning having a good electrical disaster plan requires up-front planning, written documentation, regular review and someone that has the primary responsibility to put the plan into action.
Clifford Power Systems can help and guide many of the steps outlined in this report. Please let us know how we might be able to help.