Local Government Energy Assurance Planning

Best Practices: Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix, Arizona's Generator Assessment Program

Emergency generator.
Photo courtesy City of Phoenix.

Phoenix, home to over 1.4 million people, with a land area of over 475 square miles is one of the United States' largest cities, based both on population and land area.

Phoenix's Local Government Energy Assurance Plan (LEAP) efforts have focused on conducting generator assessments, and providing staff with generator training, that other cities can use as a model for their own LEAP efforts.

Over the past few decades, the City of Phoenix developed a four-point priority ranking system for city-owned properties, based on health and human services needs in case of an emergency. The system was originally developed as a result of numerous fuel shortages in the city. Facilities ranking 1 and 2 are high-priority ones that deal with life-saving activities or health concerns.

Using its LEAP grant, Phoenix officials selected a representative sample of high-priority facilities and conducted generator needs assessments at 27 locations to ensure that backup generator capacity was adequate. After evaluating the adequacy of existing generator capacity based on energy used at the facilities, the city made recommendations for necessary generator upgrades or replacements and provided cost estimates so the facility managers can include the amount needed in their budgets.

Example from Phoenix’s Generator Tracking Database.
Photo courtesy City of Phoenix.

Other cities may benefit from developing a priority ranking system for their critical facilities when developing their own LEAPs.

Prioritizing critical facilities can help local governments identify which services must be operational during an energy emergency. As part of a larger effort to conduct generator assessments, and verify the facility ranking system, Phoenix has inspected more than 220 city-owned generators using the LEAP funding. Staff entered information on the generators into a structured query language (SQL) database.

The database tracks the size of each generator, the make and model, and information on electrical wiring and the electric panel, including what type of equipment is plugged into each generator. The master copy of the database is shared across a few departments, and select individuals have permission to change the data. Others have read-only access. Storing the generator information in the database ensures that Phoenix can quickly identify the location of generators during an energy emergency.

Phoenix also maintains an annual load-bank testing schedule for generators. Testing the generators annually ensures that maintenance and repairs can be performed in a timely manner, before an energy emergency occurs.

Generator Assessment Training

Thanks to the LEAP grant, two of the city’s mechanics attended a 3-day generator training class. And about 60 staff members from different departments participated in training conducted by the International Association of Electrical Inspectors.

These sessions covered generator regulations, working with transfer switches and electrical systems and generator maintenance. As a result, the city now has staff on hand who can troubleshoot issues with its generators.