As Washington D.C. and surrounding areas of Maryland dealt with a temporary power outage on April 7, diesel-powered emergency backup generators were working to provide emergency power to hospitals, official government buildings, emergency response centers, transit rail service and other critical facilities.

“With their self-contained fuel supply, rapid response time, and strength in electrical load-carrying capacity, diesel generators are the technology of choice for emergency back-up power,” said Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum.

“Today’s power outage in parts of southern Maryland and Washington D.C. reinforces the growing reliance we have on continuous electrical power, and the importance of planning to ensure continuity of service. Fortunately, most key government facilities, communications and transportation networks have emergency back-up generators and the majority of those are powered by diesel engines.

“Diesel-powered generators can and do save lives during any kind of power crisis–be it from equipment failures, major weather events, overloaded grids or other threats,” Schaeffer said.

“From hospitals to water treatment facilities or airport control towers, every second counts when the power fails. Fortunately, within 10 seconds of a power failure, diesel-powered backup generators go to work. That’s why diesel is a silent yet reliable partner in virtually every critical facility across the country. No other energy source provides full-strength backup power within ten seconds of a failure by the primary electricity grid.”


Enhanced Access to Back-up Power Being Incorporated into State and Local Resiliency Plans

Schaeffer said that following Superstorm Sandy, governments impacted in the Northeast moved to ensure that more key businesses and government service facilities have access to emergency back-up power systems. Programs such as Maryland’s Energy Resiliency Grant Program and New Jersey’s Energy Development grant program assist key businesses like gasoline and diesel service stations as well as state and local volunteer fire departments in funding the installation of switchgear or acquiring a back-up emergency generator.

Diesel-powered generators have proven to be the most reliable, durable, and economical source of emergency power, Schaeffer said. In almost all instances, diesel generators are the only source of power generation that meets federal and state requirements of 10-second start-up and electrical load-carrying capacity. Diesel powered units are typically much larger than the portable gasoline powered generators available at local home supply stores.