Emergency Standby Power

The Client: KAC Generation and Mechanical Pty Ltd.

Surviving after a cyclone – the need for power in a crisis. Natural disasters cannot be prevented, and electrical safety is one of the biggest concerns at these times, but good planning, with the assistance of professionals can assist in speedy and safe recovery strategies.

The Background

As Tropical Cyclone Yasi made land fall in the early hours of February 3, 2011 near Mission Beach in Far North Queensland, Kerry Copelin and the team from his family-owned business, KAC Generation and Mechanical, were ready.

In fact they had been ready from the moment that the then Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, issued her stark warning about Yasi having the potential to be the biggest cyclone the state had ever seen. Communities without power equals chaos and Kerry knew well enough that being prepared was the best line of defence.

Queenslanders are a tough breed, but Cyclone Larry, which left its own path of destruction on the region in March 2006, had taught everyone a lesson, says Kerry. “Many people up north are used to cyclones. They know what to do and how to prepare for an imminent cyclone, but Yasi was different. It was much stronger and more widespread. So many people were affected.”

Wind gusts near the centre of the cyclone reached around 285 kilometres per hour and its havoc extended 400 kilometres along the coast and inland to Mount Isa. The worst affected areas were around Mission Beach, Tully, Silkwood, Innisfail and Cardwell. The paradise that normally enveloped the towns of the Great Green Way was now a mess of destroyed homes, shredded banana and sugar cane crops and smashed marinas and resorts. In addition to personal suffering, the agriculture, mining and tourism industries also bore the brunt of Yasi’s devastation.

The Requirement

Disaster prevention, relief and recovery are tasks of enormous magnitude, and one that takes the hard work and commitment of an entire community. Kerry Copelin and his team were an essential part of this effort. Because of its great size, and the lessons  learnt from Larry, the thousands of residents in the path of Yasi were urged to evacuate, including thirty thousand people from Cairns alone. Kerry and his team worked around the clock to setup Olympian generator sets at the evacuation centres to ensure power was available for essential services in these extraordinary conditions.

The storm cut power to more than 200,000 properties and a month after Yasi hit there were still approximately 700 properties without power because they had not been deemed safe for reconnection. Kerry and his team normally field one order per week for Olympian generator sets, but the phone rang off the hook with enquiries, from those who weren’t prepared, to farmers whose existing generators had either failed or couldn’t supply enough power.

The Solution

Kerry supplied 30 Olympian generator sets to local residents in the first fortnight alone.

From banana farmers needing power for their bore water pumps to dairy farmers requiring refrigeration and power to run their milking machines, safe, reliable and dependable generator sets were imperative. The alternative scenario was potentially no power for months, resulting in loss of income, waste of produce and animal suffering. For the wider community it equated in job losses and higher prices for produce.

The Results

Natural disasters cannot be prevented, and electrical safety is one of the biggest concerns at these times, but good planning, with the assistance of professionals like Kerry Copelin, can assist in speedy and safe recovery strategies. Summer cyclones are a way of life in these parts and in Yasi’s aftermath the Queensland government announced that it would build permanent evacuation centres in the region, all installed with Olympian generator sets.

Olympian generator sets are designed, engineered and manufactured for optimal performance at an ISO 9001 Caterpillar facility for both prime power and standby service. They deliver dependable, clean and economical power, even in the most demanding conditions,all benchmarked to the highest safety standards.

Many of the residents of the Great Green Way who were assisted by Kerry Copelin and the team at KAC Generation and Mechanical in the lead up to and the aftermath of Yasi are testament to this. Craig Teitzel from Cardwell IGA says that having an Olympian generator set pre-installed by KAC “was the best money I ever spent.”

Craig believes that it is imperative that every services business in North Queensland has a generator on stand-by.“ As soon as we lost power on the night of Yasi our generator kicked in. Kerry had already had it installed and it kept us fully operational for the next three weeks.” Craig’s business was not only able to continue to service a community in isolation, but also assist locals with refrigeration and other essential power needs thanks to their Olympian generator and the support of KAC.