Five temporary generators rented by the Hull Municipal Light Plant to ensure that residents stay warm this winter during any power outages are up to the task of providing electrical power to Hull residents, a test run last weekend demonstrated.
The purpose of the test was to ascertain that the diesel fuel-powered generators started properly and to determine how much time it would take to get them up and running. Hull has endured numerous power outages over the years, including October’s 24-hour blackout.
Light Board Chairman Patrick Cannon told The Hull Times that “the town is prepared in the event a National Grid outage occurs during the winter months. There’s more than adequate power to supply the wintertime load of the town of Hull.”
While it takes about an hour to get the generators operating, Cannon said the actual timeframe during which they would kick in would be between 1½ to two hours.
“That’s because there would be no sense in starting the generators after a five-minute outage because we would first need to pinpoint whether the problem occurred outside of Hull,” Cannon said. “If extensive [time-consuming] repairs were required, we’d start up the generators.”
National Grid-related power losses are often of long duration and are more difficult to resolve because many of the feeder lines are located in Hingham in a wooded area that can be difficult to access, especially at night.
“Once we know it’s an outside issue, we would call National Grid right away and send a Hull Municipal Light Plant crew to the scene to help them identify where the problem is as quickly as possible,” Cannon said.
Light board member Jacob Vaillancourt said earlier that there would be no need to access the generators for any local outages “because these types of power losses have always been resolved quickly by the light plant.”
The decision to have the generators available from Dec. 1 through March 31 was made in consultation with the light board and the Board of Selectmen as well as with Fire Chief Chris Russo in his role as emergency management director. The generators are in trailers located near the traffic lights on George Washington Boulevard.
Present during the testing were the Hull Light Plant crew and Light Plant operations manager Panos Tokadjian and assistant operations manager Mike Schmitt, staff from the company renting the generators to the town, Cannon, Town Manager Philip Lemnios, Russo, and Town Counsel James Lampke.
“Even though I was confident we had enough generation to do the job, I’m glad we performed the test,” Cannon said. “It was a team effort.”
The light plant is paying for the rental of the generators, from its emergency reserve fund for the 2020-2021 winter season, at an estimated cost of $850,000, depending on the number of potential outages.
At the January light board meeting, there will be a discussion about how the light plant will recoup the cost of leasing and operating the generators. But at least until January, there will be no ratepayer increase, according to Vaillancourt.