Protecting your family from outages

Protecting your family from outages

The Texas blackout is only a symptom of a nationwide problem: What you need to know about the fragile state of the electric grid and how to protect your family from outages.

In February 2021, a massive winter storm plunged the Texas region into a virtual snow globe. Not only was the state unprepared to remove the snow that blocked roads and access, but the grid supplying Texan’s with critical electricity couldn’t handle it either. 

In the days and weeks that followed, millions of people wanted to know who was to blame for the massive outages that have been attributed to 111 deaths

It turns out, the ‘who’ was the simple question. And the simple solution.

After stripping away the many layers of blame shifting, the ‘how’ behind the blackout is much more concerning: The grid was physically incapable of keeping up with the demand for power, even if the entire grid remained online. There just wasn’t enough power to satisfy the demand.

As the temperature dropped on February 14th, Texans began turning on their heat, which was mostly electric. With so many homes trying to stay warm, a record-shattering demand spike was seen to the tune of 74.5 gigawatts

In comparison, normal Texas grid operation is roughly 58 gigawatts, statewide. To prepare for temporary surges in demand, the Texas grid can increase their supply to a maximum of 67 gigawatts. 

In other words, the demand for electricity was almost 8 gigawatts over what could be supplied under any circumstances. Even in emergencies. 

The unavoidable truth is that even if Texas’ electric generation capacity stayed 100% online during the storm, there still would have been blackouts. The grid just couldn't keep up with the power demands placed on it by the population.  

By time the storm had passed, 14 U.S. States were forced to establish rolling blackouts to cover the electric shortage. Even outside of Texas, there just wasn't enough power to go around.
This is not a new phenomenon, either. 

In fact, electrical systems engineers and industry experts have been issuing reports for years that all say the same thing: without a staggering shift in upgrades and spending, outages will only increase in frequency and duration. Placing millions of people at risk every time the grid goes down.

And they unanimously agree that no section of the grid is “safe” from longer, and more frequent, outages. Nationwide. 

Why is the grid struggling? And what can we do to protect our homes and businesses from the inevitable threats that follow power outages? 

Our electric grid is like a house of cards

When operating under ideal conditions, the U.S. electric grid is a deeply complex interconnected system of power generation plants, transformers and some 6 million miles of wires. 

Using sensors, switching gear, and control centers, the grid can reroute power if small sections go black because of storms, accidents, or even repair work. Most of the time, people don’t even realize that something has rerouted their power because the transitions are near-seamless.

At least, that’s how the grid works under perfect conditions.

In August 2003, a transmission cable in Ohio heated from above-normal power demands, causing the cable to become flexible and sag. The sagging cable touched a tree, which caused a power failure. When that section went dark, nearby sections of the grid attempted to pick up the extra burden as designed to keep the lights on. 

Only those sections were already under a substantial load of their own from consumer demand and could not handle the increase. They, too, went down.

Over the next few hours, a cascading series of demand shifts continued to take down sections of the grid in a snowball effect, until over 50 million people across 8 U.S. states and parts of Canada were without power. 

The 2003 Northeast Blackout, as it was termed, took weeks to restore the entire grid to 100% functionality, contributed to 11 deaths and cost an estimated $6 billion in lost production and damages

Despite the grid operating exactly as designed, the power demand was simply too great to manage.

An aging grid over capacity… and the demand just keeps going up

In their 2017 Infrastructure Report, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the US electric grid a D+. The shocking report stated: “much of the U.S. energy system predates the turn of the 20th century. Most electric transmission and distribution lines were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s with a 50-year life expectancy...the lower 48 states’ power grid is at full capacity, with many lines operating well beyond their design.”  

In shorter terms, they designed much of the grid to only last 50 years before replacement. And it was installed 70 years ago when the average home and business used a fraction of the power they do now.

And the well-intentioned adoption of electric vehicles and home charging stations may dramatically balloon the demand for electricity past the point of sustainability.

According to new research from energy systems engineers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), just one or two electric vehicles on one block may overload nearby transformers past their operating capacity. Transformers that may have operated for 30-40 years will probably need to be replaced in less than 10, which exponentially increases the cost of just maintaining the grid. 

For comparison, the current king of home electric use, a central air conditioner, uses roughly 7kW of power to cool a large 3,500 square foot home during the height of summer. The charger necessary to keep a single electric car ready for everyday use, on the other hand, can demand a staggering 22kw while charging. Put another way, that single charger is the power equivalent of three large central air units cooling a combined 10,500 square feet of living space.    

So add the demands of new transformers to the projected $197 billion investment gap by 2029, and it gets a lot clearer why the DOE’s Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program plan, said that electric utilities will need to spend between $1.5 and $2 trillion from 2010 to 2030, just to maintain reliability of the existing grid.

All told, from 2008-2017, there was an average of 3,188 blackouts per year, plunging an average of 21.96 million people per year, into the dark. 

That is a whole lot of blackouts you may not have heard about until right now.

So if the grid is really this strained, and they forecast electricity demand to dramatically increase with electric vehicles, what can we do to protect our homes and families during an emergency?

Managing the inevitable outages with comfort and security 

Statistically, most of the documented outages when demand outstripped supply occurred during more extreme weather events. Realistically, when it is very hot or very cold, people will be calling on more electricity to maintain a comfortable, and safe, temperature.

Logically, that also means we should be doubly concerned about these types of outage events since losing power during severe weather also means losing the ability to keep our homes at safe temperatures, with running water and safe food storage. 

If the problem is the grid letting us down, then the clear preparation alternative is to generate your own electricity to keep your lights on. 

Let’s look at two ways to do that.

Solar Power

Solar power is a fantastic alternative to grid power, and also has the potential to generate electricity year round, not just during an outage. As long as the sun is up and shining, you will have electricity and a lower utility bill. 

Well, almost.

There is one critical aspect of a solar array that is absolutely necessary to run your solar during a grid outage: a battery bank. 

The reason is a federal mandate called “anti-islanding”, which was instituted to protect utility workers during power outages. Essentially, all solar systems installed in the U.S. are required to stop generating electricity in the event the grid goes down. The reason is simple: if the grid is down, then utility workers can safely fix the problem without being electrocuted. But if you have a grid-connected solar array, then your panels can still feed the grid and potentially electrocute utility workers anywhere in your vicinity. Anti-islanding prevents that risk.

The solution to this mandate is a hybrid grid-tie system that has a battery bank attached to it. During an outage, the solar array feeds power into the batteries, which are used to power loads in the home, all isolated from the grid by a transfer switch. 

The downside to this concept is that the battery banks are very large, expensive, and could need to be replaced in as little as five years.

Standby Whole House Generator 

Outside of solar arrays, the best bang for the buck option that can be installed in the shortest period is the standby whole house generator.

These generators are permanently installed next to your home and look just like a central air conditioning unit. When the power goes out, or even “browns-out”, the generator will automatically turn on and take over the power supply to your house. Even if no one is home. 

The obvious upside to this option is a total backup replacement of your power supply without sacrificing any comforts. Even on the hottest days or coldest nights, your generator will continue powering the critical items that keep your family safe and comfortable. To top it all off, natural gas-powered generators mean no refueling in the middle of the night, or needing to be home for the power to stay on. It just works.

And choosing a meticulously-designed generator, like the Cummins QuietConnect, also means no loud shrieking motors or failures at the moment of truth. Just smooth, confident electricity that is entirely inside your control.  

Keeping your lights on is a choice you can make

All of this may be very concerning, since electricity is one of those things that we just can’t imagine life without. And many of us have seen what happens when the power goes out for an extended period in severe weather: it doesn’t take long before things get ugly.

In time, the hope is that newer technology will be developed to cope with the ever-increasing demand placed on the grid. Or they will dramatically increase infrastructure spending to make up the shortfall of system-lifespan and eventual replacement. Regardless of how that solution presents itself, however, there is little doubt that the problem exists right now.

The good news is we don’t have to wait for someone else to fix our problems for us, and we certainly don’t have to wait for bad times to strike before we take steps to prevent it. 

Every family can start taking steps now to prepare for an outage later. Stocking up on warm clothes for winter outages, or bottled water for summer outages. Keeping a supply of non-perishable food on hand, or learning how to capture rainfall for the really long outages. 

Or, for the family that wants to ironclad their outage plan, consider finding your nearest Cummins dealer and scheduling a painless home assessment. In just a few minutes you can know exactly how little the ultimate peace of mind can cost and even explore financing options from Synchrony Bank. 

Then, the next time the grid lets you down, regardless of the weather or demand, your family will still be safe and comfortable.   

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

No paint? No problem. 6.7 turbo diesel engine ditches clear coating for improved sustainability


For over 30 years, the Columbus Mid-Range Engine Plant (CMEP) has built the heavy-duty diesel engine for pickup trucks and coated it in a rust-preventative. In 2021, this coating was eliminated, making manufacturing cleaner for the popular engine.

Despite how sophisticated a painted Cummins Inc. diesel engine may look, painting engines hasn’t always been for the dashing looks, cool style, and flash. As the most common source of material used to build an engine in the past was grey iron, it was necessary to use a rust-preventative coating on all of our engine models to avoid corrosion. Coating contributed to the extended lifespan of an engine, its components and overall durability.

While paint offers protection and, to some, great style, it comes with a heavy environmental cost – from massive water and chemical waste and increased energy use and natural gas output to emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Sustainability leaders and manufacturing and service engineers at the plant recognized the advancements in material diversity on the 6.7-liter engine and conducted an assessment on their coating process.
Through their assessment in 2020, engineers validated that the coating elimination would not expose the engines to excess corrosion, ensuring the same quality, capabilities, and durability without the environmental impacts.

In fact, less than 10 components were at risk of oxidation. With the advancements in technology, most engines today are built using a variety of materials from aluminum to cast iron, with composite components here and there. Over time, the 6.7-liter engine had evolved and with it, its components. As the majority of parts and surfaces on the engine would not be impacted due to the evolution of the engine over time, eliminating the coating process was clear. For the components that were prone to oxidation, engineers found more sustainable ways, like powder coating prior to final assembly, to seal these parts from potential exposure. Only a few components now still receive a rust preventative coating.

Inside our Newest Natural Gas Generators

generator rendering

Cummins Inc. is excited to introduce two new natural gas generators, the C175N6B and C200N6B, to our customers. These additions use the same QSJ8.9G engine platform as the C125N6 and C150N6  natural gas generators which are popular among various industrial applications. In North America, the market for natural gas generators has been increasing over the past few years. Environmental concerns regulations and convenience for fuel refill are some of the reasons customers choose natural gas generators over other fuel types. 

We invited Vijay Jayaprakash, Cummins Product Manager for <1MW Gas Generator Sets & G-Drive, to share his experience at Cummins and introduce the two new products. 

1. What was your role in developing C175N6B and C200N6B?

As a product manager, I performed extensive research on what the customer and industry needs are and how Cummins can meet and deliver those needs by building close relationships with the customers and the sales team.   Our team invested a great amount of time and effort in researching and developing the right generators to bring improved power output of our tried and tested QSJ8.9G engine that is well recognized in the market. With these two new products  , the QSJ8.9G engine generator product range will span from 125kW to 200kW.


2. Where do you see these two new products being used?

Similar to C125N6 and C150N6, C175N6B and C200N6B will be used in government buildings, water wastewater treatment plants, healthcare facilities, commercial buildings, public infrastructure and many more.  These products would also be amazing additions to wherever paralleling  is needed for one’s pre-existing power systems. To learn more about paralleling, click here.

With the QSJ8.9G engine, C175N6B and C200N6B run on natural gas fuel , making it better for more populated areas and cities. For more information on the benefits of natural gas generators, click here.

3.Working on these new products through the COVID-19 pandemic, what did you see in your team that made it possible and successful?

Teamwork and dedication to getting the product out faster was what made this project possible. Although there were hardships along the way, I really appreciate everyone putting in effort across multiple teams at the factory , engineering, marketing and so many more. The team members have been willing to come into the office/plant for beta builds, product testing  and working flexibly to deliver this product successfully for our customers. Teamwork is one of Cummins' Values and our team showed above and beyond what teamwork can achieve. Always powering on.

4. What is one word you would use to describe the new 175 and 200kw generator sets?

Power. C175N6B and C200N6B are the market leading natural gas generator products in power density with its 8.9-liter  engine. So far, no other product is able to bring this power  in a smaller footprint including sound level 2 enclosure (73.6 (175kW) and 74.4 (200kW) dbA). We believe the C175N6B and C200N6B will change the market with their footprint, providing reliable power to our customers.

Cummins C175N6B and C200N6B use 8.9-liter QSJ8.9G engine with natural gas as their fuel. With these two nodes, QSJ8.9G provides the highest power density among the natural gas generator set products in the industry. Cummins is dedicated to powering our customers' needs with our leading technology, expertise and commitment. 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Less waste, same legendary pick-up truck

employees in front of gloves

Whether it is the power, reliability, or durability, 75% of all RAM 2500 and 2500 Heavy-Duty pickup owners choose the optional Cummins Inc. 6.7L Turbo Diesel. Manufacturing of this legendary engine is getting cleaner every day.

In April of 2022, Columbus Mid-Range Engine Plant (CMEP) Indirect Materials Manager, Sven Creutz and Continuous Improvement Leader, Clayton Johnson, implemented a nitrile glove recycling program to divert waste from landfills. But what are nitrile gloves and what has been the impact of the plant’s program so far?

What are nitrile gloves?

You have probably seen the bright purple, orange or blue gloves in your doctor’s office, pharmacy, or local automobile shop. Nitrile gloves are a standard PPE practice in many food, industrial, and chemical lab environments. Made from the compound nitrile, these synthetic, rubber gloves are particularly popular due to their chemical and abrasion resistance. They are water, grease, and oil proof, often making them the top choice in gloves, over others like latex, for occupations working long hours and exposed to harmful substances. 

How are nitrile gloves used at CMEP?

For plant employees, nitrile gloves work as a second barrier to protect Cummins employees from exposure to harmful chemicals and injury as they inspect the 6.7-liter diesel engine. Employees typically wear nitrile gloves as a base layer under a thicker pair of gloves for safety purposes.

Conversely, they also protect residue that employees may have on their hands from contaminating products.

Every hour, plant employees switch their gloves as a requirement to adhere to strict product quality standards. While use of the gloves protects both Cummins employees and products, the waste produced can be large. Nitrile gloves are a single-use PPE item; after first use, they cannot be worn again for protection against harmful substances potentially left on the surface. 

Nitrile gloves are considered less biodegradable than their latex counterparts and are often not recycled due to their use in facilities where they could be contaminated and therefore considered too hazardous to be reused.

In one year, 800 Cummins Mid-Range Engine Plant employees can go through over 530 cases of nitrile gloves, equating to roughly 875,000 gloves.

The impact of the nitrile glove recycling program 

Kimberly-Clark Professional, global corporation dedicated to producing consumer and company safety, healthiness, and hygienic products, and one of the first manufacturers to offer a recycling program for non-hazardous PEE, partnered with the plant to recycle and repurpose their biodegradable nitrile gloves. 

The plant fills gaylords full of nitrile gloves every two weeks and ships them to be sorted by a non-profit organization in western Virginia, Rightcycle, that provides jobs for disabled and disadvantaged workers. Used, non-contaminated gloves are then converted into plastic pellets and made into new products like storage bins, shelves, and lawn chairs. In the end, Columbus Mid-Range Engine Plant has created a lifecycle for nitrile gloves while simultaneously creating jobs, Creutz explained.

Since the program launched, the plant has gathered and shipped one ton of gloves to the Rightcycle facility. If the plant continues to use an average of 530 cases of gloves they typically go through in a year, they could expect to divert almost 3.75 tons of waste from landfills each year.

The Columbus Mid-Range Engine Plant is able to achieve key 2030 goals included in Cummins’ PLANET 2050 strategy by creating a circular lifecycle for materials as well as generating less waste in facilities and operations through the recycling program. For owners looking for sustainably manufactured engines, Columbus Mid-Range Engine Plant is setting the standard.

Click here to learn more about key sustainability initiatives at CMEP. 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

New Mexico Solar Professionals are making a difference during a time of potential darkness

home generator

Most people may only know New Mexico for its heat and high mountain deserts. However, New Mexico is home to the owners of NM Solar Professionals, LLC whose owners are Elaine Silva Founder CFO and Albert Silva Co-Founder and CEO. Native to New Mexico, the Silvas have been providing Home and Business Back-up Power Systems in their community that can withstand the heat and high altitude of NM. The Silvas have integrated Home Standby Generators with Solar for secure affordable emergency power.  

New Mexico Solar Professionals, LLC (NM Solar Pro) was established in New Mexico in 2016. This company is uniquely positioned in the energy Generation Market (solar design, installation, and integration of power generation through NG, LP, and other electric generation). This local family business integrated their generation projects and joined Cummins as a Power Generation Home and Small Business Dealer Network. With construction backgrounds holding a general contractor and electrical license provides a huge benefit to giving the customers the best installations possible.

NM Solar Professionals logo

Of course, from the company's name you might not assume that they sell Cummins Home and Small Business power generators. However, with the solar industry growing at record pace, it was a natural transition to consider similar low-cost NG/LP power systems that could help customers with everyday needs. A business move that has proven to be a success for the Silvas. What they’ve found is that most homeowners are unaware that a solar expert is needed to combine their existing solar system with their added power generator system; a crucial benefit that NM Solar Pros can complete. 

With not many Dealers having the training, licensing, and background similar to the Silva’s in the New Mexico area, daily needs for back-up power are more frequent. One major reason, is the recent shut down of San Juan Generating Station, a local coal fire generation plant which the Silva’s have projected impacting roughly ~20% of the local electric market to go offline. Unfortunately, there is no indication from the local government to upgrade or build any new facilities to support, leaving a high need for a solution. NM Solar Pros wants to continue being a vital source of hope for the community.

For the Silva’s, this is a pivotal moment for them to install Cummins generators. In anticipation of what could be a 10-hour rolling electrical blackout on any given day, the Silva’s have begun working with the community on cost-effective investments with the Residential Quiet-Series Cummins 20kw Power Generators. They’ve estimated that customers spend about 50% less with and get 50% more power with a  Cummins Home-Standby-Generator co compared to a back-up battery option.

Being a Cummins Dealer has allowed them to support their community in more ways than one.

The Silva’s say, the most joy comes from training the customer to use the systems and knowing that they have energy freedom that can sustain long and short-term outages through all seasons. Ensuring that customers know that they have a safe and affordable backup system for their home even if their local utility isn’t providing reassurance, gives them great pride. 

NM Solar Pros has a bright future ahead, the company is growing month over month with the support of the community. In 2023, NM Solar Pros with Cummins is committed to help families secure power for their homes and businesses. 

working on generator

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Redirecting to

The information you are looking for is on

We are launching that site for you now.

Thank you.