Backup Power Sources System Capabilities and Test and Maintenance Program

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Type:  Lessons Learned

Publisher:  U. S. Department of Energy, Office of Independent Enterprise Assessment

Published As:  Public


Topics:  Emergency Management, Fire Protection

Backup power sources are often not evaluated by an authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to establish the required system capabilities and the appropriate test and maintenance program.

DOE developed DOE-STD-3003-2000, Backup Power Sources for DOE Facilities, to increase the reliability of backup power supplies after an unacceptable number of generators at DOE sites did not start and power equipment. The standard clarifies National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) backup power standards (which are written in generic terms for general industry use) for use at DOE facilities, given the importance and uniqueness of DOE facility equipment, such as radiation detection and alarm systems and security systems. The standard directs the establishment of emergency, standby, or optional power designation based on the significance of equipment powered by backup power sources. However, the standard is not required at any DOE/NNSA site unless specifically invoked by contract, authorization basis document, or other commitment.
Independent Oversight found that the sites that were reviewed were not required to comply with the DOE standard, but were required to comply with the NFPA codes and standards that serve as the basis for the DOE standard.

An important component of the NFPA standards is the assignment of an AHJ and establishment of the AHJs responsibilities to evaluate backup power systems and the equipment they power, apply the appropriate NFPA test and maintenance program, and perform periodic assessments to verify program compliance. The intent of these codes and standards is to ensure that backup power systems are operable and reliable and will power important equipment in case of a loss of normal power. Most sites have not assigned an AHJ to perform these duties (or there are no records of these activities). The lack of an AHJ evaluation has led to undersized backup power systems and to test and maintenance activities that do not comply with NFPA codes and standards.

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