As electric utilities begin restoring power to more areas affected by last weekend's snowstorm, some residents are contending with questions about what part of their home's electric infrastructure is their responsibility, and what's the responsibility of the utilties. NEPR's Charlotte Bidett has had no power at her home in Belchertown, Massachusetts since Saturday. She says while cleaning up after the storm, she noticed that the service box that attaches National Grid's electricity line to her house had been knocked askew.
"The neighbor's tree came from across the street, and snapped it at the road with such force that it ripped the entire thing off my house. 'OK, well I'll just put the line back up myself with help from a friend,' and we did that."
But then she reconsidered her actions and decided to contact her town's building inspector. she was told that under normal circumstances, an electrician must re-attach the service box, and have the work approved by the town's electrical inspector before the power company can energize the home. But Paul Adzima, Belchertown's building commissioner, says the storm's aftermath has been anything but normal. And with many in Belchertown still waiting to get their power back on, Adzima says the town is waiving the normal inspection protocol.
"If the power company is on your street, and your services [have] either been repaired been repaired by an electrician, and/or they've physically been pulled from the house, those services, if they are not damaged other than being pulled from the house, will be reattached by the power company, and the house will be energized then."
Adzima says the town will conduct a follow up inspection. National Grid says, as of Thursday morning, more than thirty other communities in western and central Massachusetts, including Northampton, Wilbraham and Worcester, had also waived the inspection process. A company spokesman acknowledges the waivers will help speed up service restoration, saying the utility doesn't want to have customers off-line even a minute longer than they absolutely have to be.