Imagine the air pollution and noise. We tested two 5 kW generators as part of our Y2K readiness a year ago.
----- Original Message -----
From: Gene Cramer
Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2001 12:41 PM
Subject: Energy LookGlass 2001jan30 DEMAND FOR RENTAL GENERATORS SOARS
DEMAND FOR RENTAL GENERATORS SOARS
.Uncertainty in the electric supply has businesses seeking reliable backup units.
Orange County REGISTER January 30, 2001
By TONY SAAVEDRA
California's power crunch has created a clamor for backup generators, although demand could cool with the state's decision last week to suspend penalties for businesses that fail to conserve, dealers say.
In recent weeks, companies have been reserving rental generators for the summer or buying units to keep the lights on. A San Diego laboratory arranged for a generator to keep the ventilation going for research rats. Much of the interest was from businesses hit with hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties under Southern California Edison's "interruptible" conservation program. The penalties have since been halted.
"Every sales rep, and myself included, are answering a phone that's ringing continuously," said Tom Claycomb, owner of Bay City Electric Works in San Diego. "We're taking jobs home at night, the sales reps are working through the weekends. We've opened 16 new (contracts) in the last five days alone."
Most of the demand in Southern California has been for rental generators, previously reserved for construction sites and movie sets. Now businesses are snatching them up for fear of losing power. Rentals capable of producing 1 megawatt of power, enough for 1,000 homes, go for about $30,000 a month.
Claycomb said his firm's 19 rental generators are all gone "and we're scrambling to get more." Claycomb and other dealers said Friday's decision by the California Public Utilities Commission to suspend penalty rates might mean fewer rentals - or it could mean more with a higher outage threat. "The demand (for generators) will still exceed our capacity," Claycomb said.
Ken Weaver, sales manager at Johnson Power Systems in Riverside, said generator rentals are up by 200 percent from the usual rate and many businesses are making reservations for the summer. The shortages this winter have "scared the hell out of everybody," he said. "If it happens in December, what's going to happen in July?" Weaver asked. Demand for electricity is usually higher in the summer than the winter.
Bob Graydon, spokesman for MultiQuip Power in Carson, said his company is doing a booming business selling generators to rental agencies.
All 40 rental generators at Kohler Power Systems in Compton are gone. And the company is having problems getting permits to rent more. The reason, according to General Manager Gary Deahl, is a 90-day backup in processing permits at the California Air Resources Board. The agency regulates emissions from fuel-burning portable generators.
Rentals, though cheaper than buying, can be costly. Jody Callihan, operations manager at Astech Manufacturing in Santa Ana, said his company decided not to rent a generator after learning it would cost $100,000 just to hook it up.
Pollution regulations also are a problem for businesses seeking permanent backup generators, which for most of Southern California requires a permit from South Coast Air Quality Management District. The permit prohibits operating the generators more than 200 hours a year. The district on Friday raised the limit to 500 hours for an emergency 10-day period for hospitals, police stations and other public-service facilities.
Seeing a price tag of up to $800,000 for generators, some businesses feel they are not worth buying if they can only be used 25 days a year. Deahl added that it can take as long as six months to get the AQMD permits. The AQMD says it takes no longer than three months.
The AQMD is reviewing its regulations, said agency spokesman Sam Atwood. Meanwhile, Assemblyman Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, plans to introduce a bill seeking to waive the 200-hour
limit for business on the "interruptible" program. "People aren't talking about the cost of installation, they're talking about the speed of installation," said Claycomb. "And people who already have generators want more," he said."They want more power.".