As our society begins to grapple with the long-term economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis, there is a great deal of uncertainty on the part of workers, homeowners, and business owners alike. We cannot forecast what the consequences of a months-long shutdown will be or how long they will persist, but we can look at examples from the past to better understand what we are facing today.
Fortunately, our current struggles are highly unlikely to significantly impact our energy infrastructure or result in power loss to consumers. However, natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires have shut down businesses in the past, and they offer a parallel to what many business owners face today. Any crisis that results in a reduced capacity to serve customers, continue manufacturing, or maintain supply chains can have a devastating effect on a business.
I am hopeful that our economy will recover quickly from the coronavirus shutdown, but recent history has shown that natural disasters are accelerating in frequency and impact. Sadly, this is not the last time our economy will face these challenges. But, there is an effective way to mitigate future losses - investing in your energy security.
Economic Impacts of Power Loss
The U.S. Department of Energy notes that “Power outages close schools, shut down businesses and impede emergency services, costing the economy billions of dollars and disrupting the lives of millions of Americans.” Extreme weather events are the leading cause of power loss, and the effects of global warming continue to create more frequent and more damaging weather events. Therefore, energy resilience should be a priority for business owners seeking an investment that will guard against future power loss and its economic impact.
Examining the effects of recent power outages, including PG&E’s rolling blackouts in California, EnergyCentral reveals that “power outages cost U.S. businesses $27 billion per year within eight key market segments,” which include manufacturing, education, healthcare, grocery/food stores, and retail more broadly. Even short outages can have a major impact; “a four-hour power disruption costs an average of $10K to $20K while a three-day outage can cost upwards of $50K.”
Businesses that experience power loss are disrupted in a number of different ways depending on their industry. Impacts include decreased revenue due to inability to produce or deliver goods, decreased productivity related to employees working from home (or not working at all), inferior customer care, and damage to inventory, equipment, supplies, and even facilities. These are only the short term losses, unfortunately. Long term effects of power outage may include permanent migration of previous customers, the inability to retain staff, and supply chain disruption. Sometimes, a combination of these factors can force businesses to never reopen.
The Solution? Invest in Energy Security
The good news is that businesses across these market segments can significantly mitigate the costs of power loss through investments in energy security and resilience. Manufacturing facilities, schools, grocery stores, hospitals, office buildings, and hospitals are all great candidates for solar + storage solutions that can minimize the economic impact of a blackout or natural disaster. By investing in solar arrays and battery storage, businesses benefit from the ability to create and consume their own energy, whether during a crisis or not.
Solar + storage systems provide the greatest possible value for solar adopters, including the ability to save on electric bills through peak shaving or to disconnect from investor-owned utility companies entirely. For businesses and commercial facilities, these interconnected systems provide an additional safeguard against major financial losses in the event of a blackout. Many hospitals, schools, and grocery stores are currently using backup generators to supply energy during a blackout, but solar + storage solutions offer many additional benefits in times of crisis, including independence from fuel supply lines.
As the occurrence of natural disasters (and other catastrophic events) increases, it is becoming more and more vital to invest in energy security for the health and resilience of your business. When you consider the devastating impact of power loss on your business, solar + storage is an investment you can’t afford NOT to make.
At Solar Design Studio, we’ve worked with commercial and residential clients to ensure their energy security with an emphasis on maximizing the return on their investment. Contact us today to learn more!