The Severe Weather Threat
Hurricane Sandy, or as she has become better known, Superstorm Sandy, has been the third storm in the last 14 months to be able to disrupt power supplies for millions of US homes and business establishments. The result has been an increased demand for generators, with customers experiencing more frequent blackouts.
Sandy managed to cut power to some 8.5 million homes across 11 states, and today almost 1 million are still without power with the northeast facing the real threat of another winter storm that could potentially halt repair efforts and in some cases even set them back. Dealers such as Caterpillar and Honda have had to shift generator inventory in order to meet the demand, with blackouts lingering for many residences and business locations.
Generac, the largest manufacturer of residential generators, reported last week that 2012 sales and earnings would increase as much as 40% from the same time a year ago due to the recent power outages. The initial forecast was 30%.
“There is more awareness of the need for standby power generation, both on the residential and industrial side,” Andy Kaplowitz, a New York-based machinery analyst for Barclays Plc, said yesterday.
Kaplowitz is looking to buy a generator for his own home in New Jersey, an areas that saw as many as 65% of customers losing power as a result of the damage inflicted by Sandy. Other dealers serving New York and Connecticut have seen similarly increased demand in advance of the storm and they say they expect it the demand to remain strong over the coming weeks.
The High Tech Curative
A series of weather events, last year’s Hurricane Irene, an October 2011 snowstorm, as well as this year’s weather problems, have brought to light just how unstable the power grid is across much of the area. The number of power interruptions more than double last year from 2009. Right now only 2.5% of unattached single family homes in the US currently have a standby generator, and the market for such items increased about 17% annually through 2011. There are more than 14 million buildings in the US that would be served well by having a generator available.
Generators may range n price from a few hundred dollars for portable, gasoline powered units, to several million dollars for custom made units that are powered by natural gas and able to power large facilities.
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The events of the last couple of week vividly demonstrate the need for homeowners and businesses to have a backup plan in the event of a power outage.
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