Over the last few weeks, hurricanes have pounded retailers across South Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Puerto Rico. The lack of power in these areas left thousands of customers without access to necessities normally available in grocery and convenience stores, and cost hundreds of billions of dollars in damage and lost productivity.
However, one PRSM retailer, who is also the largest grocery store chain in Texas, used its microgrid power generation technology to keep stores open during the massive flooding and power outages caused by Hurricane Harvey.
H-E-B began using microgrid technology after previous storms in the Houston area affected the chain’s ability to move its trailer-mounted diesel-powered generation sets to other stores. The permanently installed natural gas microgrids keep the stores functioning, even when there is no power from the main city power grid. The natural gas feed from underground pipelines allows the microgrid generators to operate, which is managed by a backup power company for a small service fee.
This backup power source is also environmentally friendly. Most generators are diesel-powered, which contribute to air quality concerns. Also, when the generators run out of diesel fuel, it may be difficult or even impossible, to get fuel delivered if flood waters are high or the roads are damaged. Microgrid generators use natural gas from underground pipelines, so retailers never have to worry about the environmental impact, running out of fuel or having pipes destroyed by flood waters or high winds.
Although some H-E-B stores closed their doors due to flooding, 18 of the company’s stores affected by the hurricane were able to keep refrigerators running and save refrigerated/frozen food from spoiling. Refrigerated food spoils within four hours if storage temperatures exceed 40°F; the microgrid technology potentially helped H-E-B save hundreds of thousands of dollars of refrigerated/frozen food.
H-E-B’s microgrid generator usage is something many retail FMs need to understand better. Having a microgrid backup power plan could save your facility and provide stranded customers with the items they need most during a natural disaster. To read more about H-E-B’s microgrid generator, click here.