HUD: Installation of generators in public housing slated for spring
Powerful post-Sandy machines currently sitting in parking lot
by Dean DeChiaro
Reporter staff writer
Feb 23, 2014 | 2510 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MORE POWER -- Fourteen new emergency generators currently sitting in a parking lot at the Hoboken Housing Authority will be installed this spring, HUD officials said, once the snow has melted.
MORE POWER -- Fourteen new emergency generators currently sitting in a parking lot at the Hoboken Housing Authority will be installed this spring, HUD officials said, once the snow has melted.
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After several backup generators failed in the low-income Hoboken Housing Authority (HHA) buildings during the power outages of Hurricane Sandy, the agency was able to order 14 new ones this past fall. But record-setting cold fronts and recent snowstorms have delayed initial preparations to install them, and they are waiting in a public housing parking lot, said a spokesman for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last week. HUD said that they are made to withstand the elements and will be installed in spring.

The generators were delivered last September and October and are stacked in a lot at Fourth and Harrison streets.
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The new generators were designed for outside use and were made to withstand hurricane conditions.
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The generators were procured using federal relief funding. The ones that failed during the hurricane have already been repaired and are currently fully operational, said the HHA’s executive director, Carmelo Garcia. But the new machines are twice as powerful as the existing ones.

The generators’ complicated installation process requires that the heating and electrical systems in an entire given building be shut off for up to several days. The risk that the current cold weather poses to residents is not worth taking right now, said Garcia, who added that for the time being, there is no rush to install the new generators. HUD also said that the weather will have to subside before they are installed.

The new generators were designed for outside use and specifically built to withstand Sandy-type forces of nature, HUD said, so they are confident that they will remain undamaged until spring. Garcia said that if not, they’re covered by a full warranty.

In fact, HUD said, the generators were delivered in fall on purpose. At the time, HUD, Garcia and the vendor were aware that inclement weather might be looming, but the manufacturer wanted to prove that its new model generator, more powerful than previous iterations, could withstand the elements.

The HHA is currently in the process of seeking a contractor who will install the generators.

Long process

The new generators, unlike those currently installed, can power entire HHA buildings. They are manufactured by Blue Star Power Systems, Inc. range from 100 to 200 kilowatts. The existing ones range from 45 to 65 kilowatts, only powerful enough individually to boost a building’s emergency light systems.

Because of the larger size of the new generators, and because rewiring that must be completed to accommodate their increased power, the HHA must wait until the snow has melted before engineers can begin the installation process. First, the location where each generator will sit must be surveyed, and any trees that will impede the process must be removed.

New platforms for each generator, which will raise the generators three feet above sea level, must be built, and the transfer switches in each building must be replaced. Finally, the old generators must be removed (Garcia said that some will be reinstalled at some of the HHA’s smaller buildings, which have never been outfitted with emergency generators before).

“There are many mechanics to this operation and we want it done safe and correctly using the best practice,” said Garcia. “The effects are paramount, as [all of the] buildings will have full power provided by the new generators so everyone is safer and comfortable, reducing the anxiety and stress during a crisis.”

Dean DeChiaro may be reached at deand@hudsonreporter.com

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