Innovative 'EPIcenter' Energy Incubator Focuses on Keeping the Lights On

San Antonio's innovative energy incubator called the EPIcenter held its first ever energy summit on Thursday, and the topic was how to keep vital systems operating during times of disaster or emergency, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Everything from annoying blackouts at home when it rains, to the disasterous loss of power for more than six months following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico have highlighted a serious gap in the nation's infrastructure, and experts gathered to discuss ways which are now being researched to try to close those gaps.

EPIcenter CEO Kimberly Britton says one problem involves old and outdated power lines and generating facilities, which was a serious problem in Puerto Rico.

"You had a very old and aging infrastructure that needed updating years years ago," she said.  "That is a lesson learned, that continuing investment in our grid and infrastructure is critical."

CPS Energy President Paul Gold-Williams said technology is also being leveraged to prevent the lights from going out during storms.

She says everything from wireless delivery of electric power to redundant back up systems could end the problem of storm blackouts

."The backup system engagements are so seamless than nobody ever thinks about it," she said.  "I think that is where we're headed."

EPIcenter is also working on informing businesses of the steps that they should be taking now to avoid potentially disasterous human-caused power disruptions caused by hackers or by foreign actors.

As part of the summit, San Antonio Councilman Manny Pelaez announced plans for what he called 'Resiliency Week 2018,' in which local businesses will be encouraged to test their own resiliency to both natural and man made disasters.

"Just as San Antonio develops its own Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, local businesses should follow that example and identify ways to reduce the impact of disaster on employees, technical systems and other infrastructures," Pelaez said.

Resiliency week is set for October 8-12, and will be marked with several city wide activities.

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