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Winter Storm Tests East Coast Commercial Buildings

winter storm 2018 commercial buildings East Coast
GOES East Imagery, Northeast sector view on January 4, 2018. Credit: NOAA / STAR

A powerful winter storm known as a “bomb cyclone” hit the East Coast with ice, snow, and frigid temperatures last week, putting commercial buildings to the test.

From Maine to Florida, commercial buildings have been running heat on high, the New York Times reported. The record cold prompted many utilities to switch from natural gas to coal and oil for generation. “The sustained cold is requiring round-the-clock usage of some of these oil-fired generators, and some are already running short on fuel,” an ISO New England spokesperson told the Times.

“At its peak on Wednesday, oil-fired generation provided nearly 5,600 MW of power, more than any other resource at the ISO,” Utility Dive’s Gavin Bade noted this week in an article about a controversial DOE proposal to subsidize coal plants that keep 90 days of fuel supplies onsite.

Many areas along the coast got more than a foot of snow, the Washington Post reported. “The snowfall totals were considerable all along the coastline, with 18 inches reported in parts of Maine and New Jersey; 17 inches in Massachusetts; 16 inches in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island; 15 inches in New Hampshire.”

AccuWeather reports that temperatures are likely to bottom out today through Saturday, with some areas in the north staying in the single digits. In addition, strong winds from the storm pose risks to the power supply, travel, and property.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s office sent out an alert warning businesses about potential price gauging during the winter storm. “General Business Law prohibits excessive increases in prices of essential goods and services like food, water, gas, generators, batteries, and flashlights, hotel lodging, and transportation, during natural disasters or other events that disrupt the market,” he noted.

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