Extremely hot weather was putting a strain on the electrical grid even before July 4th. Then, in the early morning hours of July 5th strong thunderstorms and winds blew through Flint, Detroit, and Toledo. More than a ½ million homes and businesses were suddenly out of power.
Within 12 hours of the storms running through Michigan, it was apparent that this power outage was the largest and most troubling that the region had seen since the 2003 Blackout. Many companies were operating on backup generator power. Emergency orders for backup fuel spiked; many were needed within hours to prevent business shutdowns. One customer that called Atlas was near the breaking point when he indicated that his business was within minutes of losing $1.5 million worth of perishable food in cold storage if he couldn’t get more fuel for his generator. For this business and thousands of others that cannot afford to lose power the biggest concern soon became: when would power be restored and do we have enough backup fuel supply to last?
Due to the severity of the storm and the pressures it placed on fuel supplies and emergency service, Atlas Oil activated its Emergency Response Plan by opening additional supply channels and logistical assets. By midday, Atlas had instituted its “Emergency Fueling Prioritization Plans” that allocates emergency supply to each category of existing and new customers. Those customers who have elected to be on the Generator Assurance Plan (a guaranteed fuel supply agreement) were provided supply allocation and front of the line delivery service to mitigate the risk of going dark during an outage. In the first full blown test of this program, each of Atlas’ contracted customers received the fuel they needed to keep operations live during the multiple day long power outages. For more info on the GAP program, click the image below to watch a short video:
For companies that have not invested in permanent backup generators another fundamental problem revealed itself during the storms. Most of the portable generators that can typically be rented and deployed on-demand for emergencies had been shipped out of the state. They were sent to Ohio and West Virginia to combat the massive power outages caused by a “Super Derecho” storm that created hurricane force winds and knocked out power to millions. Without access to these portable generators many businesses – including retailers, offices, and gas stations – found themselves without power and without a backup power solution. As a business continuity best practice, Atlas suggests working with portable generator rental companies in advance of the storm to develop an agreement for gaining access to the finite supply of portables so that your business never suffers from unexpected and widespread power outages.