Is it time to consider a backup energy plan for your boiler?
Natural gas is dependable, but not perfect
Most boilers today, industrial/commercial and residential, are fueled by natural gas. Which is good because today natural gas is generally plentiful, efficient and less expensive than other fuel types. Moreover, gas is dependable. According to a 2018 report by the Natural Gas Institute, “an electric customer (in the U.S.) is 64 times more likely to experience an outage than a natural gas customer.”
But no utility is perfect. Take, for example, “The Big Freeze” in Texas in February 2021.
The weeklong freeze, power outages and insurance claims for burst water pipes is expected to easily go down as the costliest weather event in Texas history, according to The Dallas Morning News, with the final tally reaching nearly $300 billion.
“Once electrical power outages at power generation units began due to the extreme cold weather, natural gas production and transportation were impacted because surface facilities and infrastructure rely heavily on electricity for operations. Then, power outages at natural gas facilities impaired the ability of power generators to receive natural gas supplies,” according to an analysis commissioned by the Texas Oil and Gas Association.
American Boiler & Mechanical customers in Oklahoma and Kansas were affected by The Big Freeze, too, said AB&M Vice President Jason Hemphill.
While severe storms can cause power failures, it's still rare, statistically, that they will cause a major natural gas outage. In fact, unplanned gas outages are more commonly a result of damaged infrastructure caused by third parties, typically from excavation digging.
Options Currently Available
Boiler downtime due to loss of natural gas is preventable with a backup strategy. Here are some options available through American Boiler & Mechanical:
- Propane: An alternative fuel source that can be stored on premises, propane is widely available and is considered highly efficient, with an efficiency rating of at least 85 percent, as rated by their AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). AB&M has experience setting up such systems, which typically require a different regulator than our natural gas system.
- #2 Diesel Fuel: The most significant value offered by such distillate fuel oil types is their energy density. For instance, whenever fuel oil energy is measured in BTUs it is extremely high. In comparison to other boiler fuel types, no other type — gas, liquid, or solid — has a higher energy density than residual oil and distillate diesel. Again, AB&M can help. Using diesel #2 will likely require a burner upgrade on your system.
- A rental boiler: Many companies will occasionally need to rent an industrial boiler for emergency needs, or to ensure seamless operations while awaiting a new installation or service on an existing boiler. Typically, piping is required for a rental boiler. Whatever the need, American Boiler & Mechanical has you covered. With several industrial boilers trailer-mounted for quick delivery and hookup – usually in 1 to 3 days – AB&M can augment your system quickly and affordably.
Your Backup Strategy Starts with Planning
All backup options listed above should ideally start with a site survey by a qualified professional. Such a survey will determine piping and access requirements, including estimated timetables. Prudent boiler system managers will schedule such a survey today.
To get your boiler system prepared for the unexpected, contact us by calling 800-235-5377 or through our website at www.americanboilermech.com.