Environmental Regulations That May Affect Your Power Generator

power generator

Power generators are essential investments for any business or commercial facility. During bad weather, you can avoid outages and keep everything up and running. Whether you’re planning to have one installed or you already own a power generator, it’s common knowledge that there are environmental regulations to consider. These are not bottlenecks, but additional requirements that are meant to ensure protection and safety.

In this blog, we’ll list the main environmental regulations that can affect your power generator.


What are Emergency Generators?

EPA defines emergency generators as “stationary combustion devices,” such as reciprocating internal combustion engines, or turbines that serve solely as a secondary source of mechanical or electrical power whenever the primary energy supply is disrupted or discontinued during power outages or natural disasters that are beyond the control or operator of a facility.”

There are no time limits placed on the use of emergency generators during an emergency, but there are limits to the number of hours a generator can be in operation in non-emergency situations, such as maintenance, testing, and other occasions, like offsetting electrical demands, or reducing electrical costs.

The bigger the generator, and the older it is, the more likely environmental regulations will be triggered. The type of fuel that’s used to power the generator also affects compliance. Generators can run on diesel fuel, gasoline, propane, or natural gas.

Environmental Regulations that Affect Your Industrial Generator

Air Emissions

Emergency generators can have the potential to emit various air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, xylene, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and others.

Depending on your state or local environmental regulations, and the type of generator you have, you may need to prepare and file for an air permit. This can include a general permit, an operating permit, or a construction permit.

There are specific rules that govern the various types of generator engines. Each regulation has strict operating guidelines and compliance obligations, including regular air quality reporting that can be made easier with an automated monitoring solution.

Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC)

If the fuel that you store on site is in a tank with aboveground storage and more than 1,320 gallons, you will need to prepare an SPCC plan. SPCC Plans identify discharge prevention potential, discharge prevention measures and tasks, training, and the procedures to be followed if a spill were to occur.

If your fuel storage is above certain amounts, you will be required to conduct EPCRA annual reporting as well as a chemical inventory, and notifications. (For more information about EPCRA, read our recent EPCRA blog article.)

Tank Certifications and Registrations

Aboveground and underground fuel storage tanks may need to be registered, permitted, inspected, and certified per state and local regulations.

Employee Exposure Issues

Though technically a safety issue, any backup generator that is brought into a facility could cause additional employee exposure issues. Before the use of generators, noise monitoring would need to be conducted to determine the potential noise exposure to employees in the area. Exhaust that’s emitted from indoor generators can also cause additional issues with employee exposure to chemicals. There may be a need for engineering controls, or additional employee personal protective equipment.

Environmental Regulations that Apply to Your Emergency Power Generator

Emergency power generators can be critical pieces of equipment for a facility, especially in the stormy seasons of spring or winter, or during natural disasters, like hurricanes, fires or floods. If you have one in your facility now, or are thinking about investing in an emergency generator, you need to be aware of the environmental regulations that can be triggered by having one onsite.

The regulations that apply to emergency power generators can vary greatly, depending on the style, type, model, location, facility setup, and other factors. What are your specific permit requirements? Let CD & Power figure this out for you. Contact us at 1-925-690-1658 to speak with a specialist today. Our team of experts is available to answer your questions about environmental obligations. Send an email by clicking this link.

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