Water/Electricity: What about generators, batteries, surge protectors, and more?

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The following is a message from Cynthia Beal regarding some questions Wayne Schumacher had about generator back-up power in the event of a problem. (Wayne's in charge of student housing at a college in Oregon. See Wayne's papers listed in the "Tools (people can use)" thread in this forum.) You may also want to check the "Water: Back-up generator for city system" thread in this forum to read a little about what Ian Wells and his friends in Lowell, MA, are doing on a larger water/back-up generator project...


RE: your generator purchase in Ashland...

Might I suggest that you network this closely, from starting research to finishing purchase, with your utility personnel? This will make the work transparent to everyone, including the utility, and give them a working context within which to answer others in your community. Knowing where the generators are will also give them a "map" of generation capacity.

My research suggests a liquid cooled product, propane operated with a tank (you'll probably buy the conversion kit, but keep the regular fuel system just in case - make sure all the parts are there, and that it works), powerful enough to take care of essentials, will be good.

One policy my friends in other places have used is to operate the generator to do high wattage operations, and have a bank of storage batteries hooked up via a high quality inverter/quick-charger/battery conditioner for low use operations when the generator isn't running. Generators do not store power - they generate it, making it available on demand for high-wattage power or heat equipment. In between the moments when the tool is pulling peak power, the batteries can be charging, storing amps for low-use operations like computers, radios, etc. when the generator is not on.

Secondly, I'd suggest that you contact your building/organizational insurer, and see if they:

1) intend to exclude y2k damages from their policies - I believe they have to decide if they're planning to do that before September's end, 1998. If not, find out if your actions will lead to some form of premium discount. Chances are there's nothing in place on this front yet, but it makes sense to begin the discussion. If so, you might think of a lot of other things you want to accomplish between now and then.


2) you could explore additional electrical buffering needs with the electrical contractor, your utilty, and a local parts supplier.

3) Students are notorious for not backing up their data; perhaps a y2k coordinator/team for your dorm - a point person or two who are getting some form of technical education - would be a good group to emplace; they can advise students on data backup, surge protectors, etc. It would be a shame to lose lots of papers and information just because of power blips.

These are all tools that can raise awareness gently, allowing people to get used to the idea of y2k while doing something proactive that they should have done a long time ago - power outages and surges are nothing new; being prepared might have been, but that is fast changing.

Again, starting preparedness is the first step. Lots of things follow quickly once you open the can and start counting the worms. Trying to do everything at once in order to prepare is asking a lot of someone. Starting small worked for me - it might for your groups, too.

I'll respond to any comments on this at y2kforum@efn.org



Cynthia Beal
Red Barn Natural Grocery
Eugene, Oregon

*The Milliner's Millennium

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