Powerful Response

ERS prepares hurricane plans for many of its customers

With the growing demand for energy related products and services on the Gulf Coast, Energy Rental Solutions (ERS) is a Houston-based Cat® dealer that has one of the largest equipment rental fleets of temperature control, compressed air, and power generation products.

ERS prepares hurricane plans for many of its customers, particularly in the oil and gas industry, says ERS president Scott Milligan.

“A lot of the large complexes and refineries and other plants have to do controlled shutdowns if they believe there’s going to be power outage,” Milligan says. “So they can’t just flip the switch off.  They need to manage the shutdown.

“We will go in to the customer’s facility and identify what equipment is needed, where to stage it and hook it up, and what’s required to run it,” Milligan says. “We determine if they need to have fuel delivery, or fuel storage tanks onsite.

ERS also helps hospitals with their hurricane contingency plans.

“Because hospitals are required by law to have backup power, they’ve already done a fair amount of preparation,” Milligan says. “We can install a docking station, so we can plug in rapidly with quick-connect panels.”

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, more businesses such as frozen food warehouses are realizing the need to have a plan in place, Milligan says.

“Folks are contacting us to see where they stand as far as storm preparedness,” he says.  “They want to buy a hurricane contingency plan. In general, we will give them guaranteed availability of a specific piece or pieces of rental power equipment for a cost. It’s almost like an insurance policy if a hurricane happens.

“The message here is preparation is the key,” Milligan adds. “We have more folks coming to us now asking for an assessment of their emergency power needs in the wake of the storm. I think this storm—along with last year’s flood in Baton Rouge—opened people’s their eyes to the fact that the water is what really causes the most damage.”

But as is always the case with hurricanes and major weather events, the onset of the tropical storm that lingered over southeast Texas for five days left businesses scrambling for emergency power.

“I’ve been through a lot of the storms and a lot of the floods, and when you think you’ve seen it all, you really haven’t seen it all,” says Dwayne Long, general manager of ERS. “While we didn’t get the damaging wind that hit Rockport and Corpus Christi down the coast at 130 miles an hour, we got anywhere from 40 to 55 inches of rain over a five-day period, which caused a lot of problems here in Houston.” 

Once the storm hit southeast Texas with tremendous impact, ERS was inundated with calls for emergency power.

“Once the storm looked like it was going to be quite a bit worse than we initially thought, there was a lot of urgency,” Milligan said.  “A lot of people were scrambling, because nobody anticipated that we were going get 50 inches of rain.”

ERS personnel worked around the clock 24/7 from Aug. 25 thru Sept. 6, and beyond, Milligan said.

“We had technicians that were out on the road setting up jobs,” he said. “We had people here in the shop putting equipment out 24/7. There were guys sleeping in the shop here, sleeping in the trucks out on jobsites, all along the Gulf Coast and not just here in Texas. So from Corpus Christi all the way over to the panhandle of Florida we had folks moving around quite a bit.”

Cat rental generators from all over the U.S. were sent to the Gulf Coast region, coming from as far as New England and California.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do this without our Cat dealer partners,” Milligan said. “There’s a lot of equipment in the Cat dealer network, and when these type of emergencies come up the network responds very well and works together.

“When these type of things come up the partner dealers that we deal with understand the sense of urgency,” Milligan says. “There’s a ‘get it done’ attitude that’s highly prevalent in the network, and it really worked out pretty well this time—it’s a powerful thing.” 

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