Blizzards. Ice Storms. Hurricanes. New Englanders are used to being buffeted by Mother Nature. But increasingly, it seems, the impact of such storms has lingered long after the weather front blows through, with hundreds or thousands of residents left in the dark.
To add insult to injury, occurrences like the recent demise of a Boston electric substation have cut power to thousands of homes in the midst of a summer heat wave.
Beyond the inconvenience—the loss of modern-day necessities like television and air-conditioning—power outages can wreak havoc on condominium residents. It’s not unusual, property managers say, for suburban associations to rely on electricity for such basics as fresh water and toilets that flush. And residents of high- or even mid-rise buildings may require elevators for access to their homes.
The folks at One Charles Condominium in downtown Boston were power-less for about 24 hours in June after a transformer in a Copley Square substation blew out. And at that, they were lucky—some nearby residents were without electricity for several days.
But although inconvenienced, the condominium residents weren’t trapped in their 17-story building, thanks to a backup generator that knew when it was time to go to work. The diesel-powered, tractor-trailer-sized generator on the building’s roof “carries the load of the elevators, life safety equipment, minimal heat, and two water pumps,” says Brian Buhler, general manager for the luxury condominium. In a winter storm situation, he says, residents could also open their doors and benefit from the building’s “core heat” in the hallways and common areas.