Turbulent weather attributed to climate change has left American residents and businesses searching for ways to cope, and increasingly they are turning to a specific solution: backup power generators.
The surging demand for backup generators due to weather and fire-related power outages in California and the crippling power losses in Texas during a severe winter storm in February led Wisconsin-based generator manufacturer Generac to build a new production facility in Edgefield County, South Carolina. The company celebrated that plant’s grand opening Oct. 21.
According to reporting by The New York Times, Generac has seen a 70% increase in sales so far this year over 2020. The company supplies about 75% of the U.S. market of backup generators.
The boom in generator sales and installations is also unfolding in the Upstate, according to Kyle Penland, general manager for Carolina Heating Service Inc. The company installs and services backup generators across the Upstate and into parts of Georgia and North Carolina.
Power disruptions like the widespread loss of electricity last year when the remnants of Hurricane Zeta swept across the Southeast have prompted local residents and businesses to turn to backup power solutions, Penland said.
Demand is so high, he added, that orders placed now are not likely to be filled before February 2022.
“The biggest problem we have with generators is Generac themselves,” Penland said. “They can’t meet demand.”
At the height of the crisis in Texas during February’s winter storm, Generac CEO Aaron Jagdfeld told CNBC that demand was outstripping the company’s production capacity.
“We can’t make them fast enough, and we’re doing everything we can to supply more product in the market,” he said.
Penland said his company installs and services backup generators for homes and businesses as well as larger systems for schools and hospitals. The cost for a smaller residential system starts at about $12,000, whereas larger, more powerful systems can run as much as nearly $100,000, Penland said.
He added that beyond the peace of mind of having backup power, many customers look to such systems for physical safety to maintain heat or critical medical equipment if main power is disrupted.
“People die without heat. People die without air,” Penland said.