Standby Generators: Things to Consider
With the rolling blackouts from this past winter in the rear-view mirror, the industry is taking a good look at how we can prevent this from happening again. They are reviewing processes, looking at ways to harden the system and identifying ways to winterize power plants and fuel sources that feed them. No one can predict if, or when this type of a situation will happen again, but we can learn from the past. In more than one instance, standby generators did NOT start or perform adequately.
Unfortunately, the standby generator at the District headquarter building did not work properly when power was lost during the February rolling blackout. An issue was found with a sensor that prevented the unit from picking up load. It was a simple repair, and we were able to get the unit up and running quickly. However, this is a reminder how important it is to check these units on a regular basis.
What is at stake if the power goes out? A bank or hospital may have far more at stake than a normal household. Farms with confinement buildings may require uninterrupted power. Standby generators can be designed to instantly switch over from the grid to standby generation with very little interruption or blink. These are all things to consider when designing and purchasing your generator.
Refer to the owner’s manual for the necessary maintenance for your specific generator. This will vary based on the brand of generator and the different fuel types. Here are a few items you may want to consider in addition to the general maintenance:
- Is my generator sized properly? Sizing is usually done when installing the generator, however, the requirements may have changed since the install date. Consider any new electric loads that your generator will be required to serve and make sure it is adequately sized.
- Test the generator and transfer switch. Proper testing will ensure that your generator is ready to perform when it is needed. Running the generator is important but occasionally testing under load will prevent surprises during a power outage.
- Make sure the generator is clear of debris and rodents. It is critical that rodents are not able to nest in the enclosure and damage the wiring.
- Check the battery and battery charger if equipped to make sure the unit will start when it is needed.
- Check the fuel supply. Make sure you have ample fuel supply to run the generator the duration you desire. Make sure the fuel supply is of good quality for diesel and gas units.
- Check all electrical connections. This includes the AC wiring that will power the home and the DC wiring that will power the electrical system of the generator.
Chad Waldow; General Manager CEO
Nebraska Rural Electric Youth Energy Leadership Camp
Stanton County Public Power District is sponsoring current 9th, 10th or 11th grade students for an opportunity to learn more about the electrical industry, watch demonstrations, tour power stations and make life-long friendships while learning important leadership skills.
Camp will be held at the Nebraska State 4-H Camp near Halsey, Nebraska from July 19-23, 2021. Transportation to and from camp as well as camp expenses will be covered by the District.
Plus – Three campers will be selected to serve as Nebraska’s Ambassadors to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Rural Electric Youth Tour in Washington, D.C. in July 2022!
Applications are due in the SCPPD office by May 15, 2021. Contact the SCPPD office for an application today!
Electricity can be extremely dangerous but is often out of sight, out of mind.
Safe Electricity offers these other electrical safety tips:
- Cell phones make strange bedfellows: Do not sleep or lounge in bed with a cell phone or other device that is charging: This can cause burns to your skin or it can cause the soft bedding materials to ignite.
- Do not use cheap chargers: Instead, use the original charging components that came with your cell phone or other electronics. When it comes time to replace them, spend a little extra to buy brand-specific chargers and cubes. Using cheaply made generic chargers with your electronics can cause injury (shock/burns) or even a fire since they may be defective.
- Charging devices and water don’t mix: Do not use a plugged in (charging) cell phone near water. Take a break from your phone while bathing, swimming or sitting in a hot tub. Deaths have occurred when a plugged-in cell phone has fallen into water. DO NOT use plugged in items near water.
- Do not overload outlets or circuits. While it can be tempting to plug in several items in one outlet or on one circuit, drawing too much power can damage your electronics or your home’s wiring, or cause more serious problems such as a fire. If too much current is drawn, usually a circuit breaker would trip or fuses would blow, but this is never guaranteed.
- Do not use portable heaters unattended or around small children or pets. Do not place flammable items near a space heater.
- Test your GFCI buttons once a month: Put a reminder in your phone or mark it on your calendar each month. GFCIs help prevent ground faults that can shock or injure you, but they can’t do their job if they are not working properly.
- Do not ignore odd electrical symptoms in your home. If your lights flicker often, if your outlets are warm to the touch or appear discolored, or if you smell odors like something is overheating but can’t determine where the odors are coming from, there may be problems with your home’s electrical wiring. There might also be a problem if your circuits or fuses need to be tripped or changed often. If you notice any of these symptoms or other unusual electrical oddities in your home, consult a qualified electrician.
- Make sure your home is protected with AFCIs, which stands for arc fault circuit interrupters. When there is an arc fault, it means that an electrical source in your home is malfunctioning. When that happens, an arc (intense heat or light) can be discharged. Because of that, AFCIs are required by National Electric Code since they help prevent home fires. Have a professional electrician assess your home to make sure AFCIs are installed, especially if your home is older.
- Include electrical sources when baby- or childproofing your home. There are many electrical components that toddlers and children can tamper with, such as exposed outlets, dangling cords, and accessible power strips or surge protectors. Be aware of potential electrical dangers throughout the home by getting down on the floor and seeing what is at eye level or within reach. Tamper-resistant outlets became required by the NEC (National Electric Code) in 2008; many homes built before then do not have them.
Jim Scherer was recognized for his 6 years of service on the Nebraska Electric Generation & Transmission Cooperative executive board of directors, including 2 years as president, at the meeting on March 31, 2021.
Jim is pictured here with newly elected president, Keith Baker of KBR Public Power District. He is presenting Jim with a plaque to thank him for his years of service. Congratulations, and thank you for your service Jim!