New generator to power City Hall during outages

MIKE LABELLA/Staff photoThe city plans to install a backup generator in this grassy area along the Newcomb Street side of City Hall.

HAVERHILL — When a storm knocked out the power to city hall during the winter of 2018 and National Grid indicated it would not be restored for quite some time, Mayor James Fiorentini was forced to close the building.

That is not expected to happen should the power go out again.

To continue providing services to the public in the event of a major outage, city hall will have the electricity it needs to keep all systems running.

"The building loses power a couple of times a year and in most cases it is for fairly short periods of time, but occasionally the power goes down for long periods of time during a winter storm or when the remnants of a fall hurricane pass through the area," said City Purchasing Director Steven Bucuzzo.

He said the generator will cost about $57,000, plus about $119,000 for installation for a total of about $165,000. The entire cost of the project will be paid for with the federal CARES Act money, he said.

The unit is expected to arrive in early September.

Mayor James Fiorentini said the biggest problem encountered during lengthy power outages has to do with the school department's servers.

"If we lose all power for more than about 15 minutes the servers shut down and the school department shuts down with it," the mayor said. "The emergency generators we had were not adequate to handle the increased work load. We elected to replace them now and to be proactive, not to wait until there was a crisis and be reactive.

"This is part of our effort all over the city to upgrade our infrastructure," the mayor added. "We have made a lot of upgrades to City Hall in the past few years."

Bucuzzo said there is an old, underpowered generator currently in the building that was installed years ago when the police department was located in the basement. He said it was installed to keep police radios and lights working, but not much else.

He said the new generator will power everything in the building, including lights, elevator; telephones and the 311 constituent services line; all IT equipment and computers, heating and cooling systems and more.

The unit will be installed on the Newcomb Street side of City Hall, in what is currently a strip of grass that slopes down from a parking area.

The generator's storage tank of diesel fuel will allow it to run continuously for 48 hours per fill, Bucuzzo said.

"It is a standby generator that will automatically turn on when the power goes out," he said. "The generator will ensure that all the critical information technology systems of the city and the Haverhill Public Schools remain running during a prolonged power outage."

Bucuzzo said the schools in particular have added a lot of new remote learning platforms, many of which are inaccessible if the power is out at City Hall.

The generator will be similar to those installed at the police and fire stations, he said.

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