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February 05, 2018   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

What does it take to keep the lights on and roads clear in all kinds of weather?

As the country braces for six more weeks of winter, state and local governments and business owners keep their response and contingency plans at the ready for everything from keeping vital services up and running to keeping highways clear from ice and snow.

Once again the groundhog has promised us six more weeks of winter. That could mean even more winter weather for some areas of the country that have already seen more than enough. All 50 states have seen at least an inch of snow this winter, and the Farmers’ Almanac still predicts heavy precipitation for many areas before spring arrives. For state and local governments and private businesses alike, keeping vital systems functioning, businesses open and emergency services delivering requires reliable and powerful equipment. During major weather events, diesel power plays a critical role in snow removal and recovery as well as protecting public health and safety during national weather emergencies.

Plowing, Clearing and Treating Roads and Runways

From the fleet of heavy-duty trucks and massive snow plows that extract the snow from roadways and the tallest drifts, to salt spreaders, road graders and wheel loaders that work overtime to clear roadways and put down chemical treatments to keep roads safe and from freezing, diesel is the technology of choice for keeping roads passable whether light snows or blizzard conditions. And when the snow really piles up, fleets of snow blowers and multiple plow units move in to clear runways and roadways to keep the transportation system moving. In land-strapped cities, mobile diesel-powered snow melting units are increasingly becoming the technology of choice to help manage high volumes of snow and limited space.

Ensure Critical Services Stay Online

When primary grid power systems fail during winter snow and ice storms, businesses and governments must be prepared to ensure continuous electrical supply for vital services and have in place backup generator and storage systems. The technology of choice is clean diesel-powered generators which have the 10-second response time and full load carrying capacity to ensure no gaps in operation. With a deluge of snow and rain, local governments need to make sure that public safety systems are operational, from the 911 emergency call centers to drinking water treatment and sewer systems.

Hospitals and Emergency Responders Rely on Diesel Power During Grid Blackouts

Standby power is critical at hospitals, blood banks, nursing homes and other health care facilities. Hospitals need to have reliable and self-contained power systems in the event of loss of grid power from ice accumulation or downed electrical wires. Clean diesel generators provide reliable, immediate and full strength electric power when primary power supply systems fail during storms or other natural disasters.

Emergency responders - fire and rescue units – rely primarily on diesel power for their response apparatus, ambulances and for powering their emergency communication systems.

Diesel Power Keeps Public Safety and Water Systems Functioning

Diesel-powered pumping systems - both portable and fixed - are in place in thousands of cities throughout the country to prevent flooding, and to keep drinking water treatment systems providing safe drinking water when the electrical power goes out. Diesel generators also provide backup power for food refrigeration, air conditioning, drinking water systems, sewage treatment, building operations and security systems. These vital services must remain fully functional under all weather conditions, including power outages.

Keeping the Internet On line and Wireless Communications Services Operating

Communications plays a vital role in our world today, especially with the reliance on cellular and smartphone technology. Text messages, tweets, emails and calls still flow through a system that requires reliable and uninterrupted electrical power. Diesel-powered generators play an essential role in backing up the internet and this increasingly connected world. Computer ‘server farms’ handle huge volumes of data for essential financial services, ATM networks and national commerce and trading centers. Even momentary losses of grid power can result not only in inconveniences, but damaging losses of business revenue, the inability to access bank funds, and lost worker productivity.

Providing Emergency Power for Air Travel Safety

At the nation’s busiest airports, diesel power is working to keep travelers safe both in the air and on the ground. Radar and telecommunications systems have their own backup power systems and the majority depends on diesel emergency generators to restore critical electrical power during storm-related power interruptions.

Because of its unique combination of power, performance, reliability and availability, no other technology or fuel can meet the full range of needs in responding to national weather emergencies. Local, state and federal governments, emergency responders and businesses depend on some of the most powerful and reliable and proven technology available today – diesel power – to play a major role in protecting public health and safety.


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Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy

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