Blackout Fears Power Generator Sales in California

By Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna
July 31, 2021 Updated: August 1, 2021

Californians are rushing to buy generators as worries of potential blackouts—triggered by heat waves and forest fires—linger.

“The grid is getting worse and worse every year,” Lupaenne Campos, co-owner of Elite Generators in Canoga Park, told The Epoch Times. “The infrastructure and the repair work are slow, so there’s a lot of outages going on now. … Edison is shutting down power if there’s a slight wind or it gets too hot.”

While generator companies recorded an increase in sales at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand is continuing into the 2021 summer season as the state issues sporadic Flex Alerts and the Dixie Fire consumes hundreds of thousands of acres.

“It’s becoming a necessity rather than a luxury now to have a standby generator,” Campos said.

When the power goes out as a result of a blackout, a generator is automatically triggered to restore power within about 45 seconds so that people can resume their normal activities.

Erik Duthie, general manager of Duthie Power Services in Long Beach, told The Epoch Times that commercial building owners have been purchasing new generators or servicing older units at an increasing rate with pandemic mandates being lifted and more people returning to the office.

“We’ve seen high demand for both commercial and residential customers installing new generators, and I’m sure anxiety from fire season is fueling part of that demand,” he said. “Fire season starting earlier this year, coupled with more Flex Alerts from these big heat waves, has definitely contributed to the increase in demand starting in June.

“I think people have just become way more acutely aware of how dependent we are on electricity in our homes. … If your Wi-Fi, your power, and your air conditioning go out, can you work from home? Probably not.”

With the high demand for generators, supply has become increasingly limited, particularly for businesses that purchase the units from manufacturers.

Campos credited the decreased supply of units to the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability of manufacturers to dispatch them quickly. Generators that used to take just weeks to receive can now take up to nine months.

As the summer continues, Campos said he’s experiencing an influx of inquiries from people curious about generators and how they work. Receiving multiple walk-ins and phone calls per week, she doesn’t foresee the demand lessening anytime soon.

Since June, California Independent System Operator (CAISO) has issued multiple Flex Alerts encouraging residents to protect grid reliability to save reduce energy consumption use from the hours of 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

According to CAISO, the demand for an emergency in the late afternoon is when the grid is the most stressed as demand increases.

The last released Flex Alert was on July 28 in an attempt to stabilize the power grid and avoid the possibility of disruptions.

“The infrastructure is still a little behind,” Duthie said. “So I do think that the demand for backup power sources and generators is going to keep increasing for homeowners.”

Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna