The blackout that affected parts of the Northeast and Midwest last week has renewed calls for the creation of a national electricity reserve, modeled after the National Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
“A variety of energy storage technologies are available, or soon will be, that can inject large quantities of power into the electrical grid within minutes,” Jason Makansi, executive director of the Energy Storage Council, told Fleet Owner. “This would aid in the recovery from blackouts, or stabilizing the grid before failures cascade through the system.”
Makansi said that even if trucking companies invest in backup generators to provide power to their terminals in case of a blackout, those generators couldn't function for more than a few hours until their fuel supply runs out.
“They are good sources of backup power for a few hours, but not if a blackout lasts for days,” he said.
For example, Richmond, VA-based truckload carrier Estes Express Lines lost power at 10 terminals in the Northeast and Midwest last week for a day, and other trucking firms in those areas had to scramble to restore communications as telephone service shut down.
Yet even though electricity can be stored in large quantities in the form of chemical energy and mechanical energy, those methods are costly and require substantial investment – something that might not be cost-justified for most trucking companies.
“Customers like trucking companies need to recognize that energy storage is not cheap,” Makansi said. “Making that investment depends on how much revenue they lose when they are without power for a few days.”