Generator business grows in Greater Fall River amid harsh New England weather
We all know the drill by now: The wind howls and the storm rages. Our lights flicker and die.
Then we say the better part of a rosary. If that doesn’t work, we begin to curse and say: “Why don’t I have a generator by now?”
“I’m definitely getting a few calls,” said Dick Souza, a licensed electrician from Fall River. “I have three or four generators on order right now. I just got through hooking up a portable generator to a house in Fall River.”
“The generator business has always been good, but since Hurricane Irene, things have gone to another level,” said Rene Lachapelle Jr., president of RALCO, 101 State Road, Westport, one of the biggest names in generators in this part of New England.
“After Irene, people decided they don’t want to go through that again. And people realized that, while losing power in the summer is one thing, losing power in the winter brings in a whole new set of rules.
“When a house freezes, it causes all sorts of problems.”
Power from the grid has become distressingly unreliable over the past few years. When hurricane Irene hit, then the storm called Sandy and the blizzard called Nemo, people in southeastern Massachusetts saw their power die and stay dead for days.
And these were not even terrible storms — just typically bad New England weather.
“When I drive around, I look at the power lines,” Lachapelle said. “No one is trimming the trees. I constantly see utility lines that are entwined by branches.”
“My own daughter lost service at her home for a week,” Souza said. “She called me and told me to come by.
“I hooked up a generator at her home one day before the last storm.”
Generators have become big business. At Home Depot in Somerset there is a display at the entrance for a permanently installed whole home generator with a sign offering to handle all the installation details. An aisle in the tool department is devoted to portable generators and the switches and cords they require.
Many people are buying the portable generators and then realizing they have no idea what to do with them next, both Souza and Lachapelle said.
“A lot of people make the mistake and try to do this the cheap way,” Souza said. “You really have to respect electricity. If you do it wrong, you can blow out all your appliances or even burn your house down.”