After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast in 2005, particularly historic New Orleans, local residents, government officials, and businesses longed to regain some sort of normalcy after experiencing the most destructive natural disaster in U.S. history. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., one of the nation’s largest food retailers, was able to react swiftly in the Big Easy, because the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company had already put an aggressive program in place that allowed it to rebuild damaged grocery stores quickly in the event of a natural disaster.

New Orleans East, one of hardest hit areas, marked a significant milestone in October 2007 with the grand reopening of Winn-Dixie’s New Orleans East Store, during a historic remote NASDAQ opening bell event from the rebuilt location. It marked the first NASDAQ remote opening ceremony from a grocery store — and the first ever in Louisiana. The 50,709-sq-ft location was the first full-service grocery store to return to the storm-ravaged community, and the company took the opportunity to build a prototype store that showcased all of its latest design concepts.

One less visible but important addition to this solution was a 600kW diesel generator from Cummins Power Generation that is capable of providing electricity to the entire store in the event of a power outage. The unit comes complete with automatic transfer switches (ATSs) and a 3,600-gal sub-base fuel tank. The standby generator, which features a PowerCommand iWatchTM wireless monitoring system that links the generator set with cellular and satellite networks, sits atop an 8-ft-high, flood-protected platform.

According to Shawn Sloan, director of energy for Winn-Dixie, the complete reconstruction of the New Orleans East store is part of a multi-phase effort in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi to upgrade nearly 500 stores within the next four years.

Power Generation is working with its distributor, Cummins Power South LLC, as the primary equipment and service supplier, and Preservation Power LLC, the firm selected by Winn-Dixie to manage the project, to meet an extremely aggressive schedule for the first two phases of the project. Due to the program’s magnitude, the project has necessitated a “total team approach,” according to Ted Jonczak, president of Preservation Power, since it involves understanding engineering, permitting, construction and compliance regulations across four different states.

While Preservation Power and its subcontractor, Chain Electric, helped expedite permitting and commissioning, Cummins was able to compress the delivery schedule on the 600kW diesel unit to help the project set a record from order placement to commissioning and operation. While diesel generators are reliable and require minimal maintenance, Cummins Power South will continue providing comprehensive service and technical support on the nearly 100 completed generator installations to date.

Hagewood noted that standby power for the New Orleans East store and a number of other Winn-Dixie stores along the Gulf Coast was put to the test with an active hurricane season. While multiple Winn-Dixie stores experienced outages, all of the generator sets kept the stores powered up throughout the storms.