Propane Generators: Keeping Hospitals Resilient During Energy Shortfalls

The summer of 2023 brought a surge in patients seeking treatment for heat-related illnesses. Across the South, West, and Midwest, relentless heat waves made life unbearable without air conditioning, while the Northeast grappled with torrential rainstorms. Additionally, Canadian wildfires cast a choking smog over several U.S. states, rendering the air unbreathable. In New York City in early June, the skyline disappeared from view for two days. Stepping outside meant stinging eyes and a runny nose. Those with respiratory illnesses had an especially difficult time with those conditions.

These extreme weather events, among others, continue to drive up the demand for electricity in nearly every state. This puts immense strain on the electric grid, especially as older power plants are retired. This worrying combination recently led the North American Electric Reliability Corporation to predict that two-thirds of North America would face the risk of energy shortages during extreme demand this past summer.

The overburdening of the electric grid has become an all-too-frequent concern. In February 2021, Winter Storm Uri left much of Texas without power for days, including vital medical facilities such as hospitals. With severe weather conditions on the rise, hospitals must ensure they can care for patients without interruption in power supply. Reliable and resilient power sources can mean the difference between life and death. In Texas, many hospitals could continue caring for their patients thanks to backup generators fueled by propane.

These generators are engineered to operate independently of the electric grid. Propane fuel is stored on-site in tanks that can hold over a week’s supply, and unlike diesel fuel, it does not degrade over time. This exceptional characteristic makes propane generators an ideal choice for hospitals and other critical facilities that cannot afford even a momentary loss of power. The National Fire Protection Association mandates that hospitals and healthcare facilities maintain at least 72 hours of on-site fuel storage for strength or operational support.

Propane offers several compelling advantages for hospital facility managers seeking clean energy solutions. It is significantly cleaner than oil and diesel and is recognized as a clean alternative fuel by the U.S. Department of Energy. Propane is methane-free, emitting deficient levels of nitrogen oxides and virtually no particulate matter. Additionally, it is increasingly available in renewable forms made from cooking waste products and plants.

Before installing a propane generator, there are specific requirements to consider. The hospital must have sufficient space to accommodate the propane tanks. Once established, the generator and propane system necessitate routine maintenance to ensure they remain in optimal working condition. This maintenance process can seamlessly integrate into existing emergency planning procedures.

Propane can offer a critical lifeline during these days of an over-stressed electric grid. It can power hospitals and other critical facilities, ensuring patients receive uninterrupted care and enabling emergency responders to carry out their duties effectively. As the challenges of severe weather events continue to test our infrastructure, propane emerges as a resilient solution that can save lives when the lights go out.

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