Berlin, Utility Outage Generator Accord Approved

BERLIN – An agreement with AT&T will give the town access to a generator during electrical outages.

On Monday, the Berlin Town Council approved an agreement with AT&T that will allow the company to install a generator near the town’s water tower. In lieu of rent, the town will be able to use the generator.

“Basically what they’re doing is installing a generator that provides backup power to their antennas on top of the tower but it also gives us the capability, say we had a sustained power outage in Berlin for six, seven hours, this would also supply power to the water tower and the pumps to pump water to town,” said Tim Lawrence, the town’s electric utility director.

According to town staff, AT&T already pays to lease antenna space on the water tower. The agreement approved this week will allow the company to install a generator near the tower at no additional cost.

“The purpose for us is solely backup power,” said Michael Rebner, a contractor working for AT&T. “When power goes out cell sites go out. With the storms that have happened over the past say five years, the powers that be, the FCC etc., has really focused in on getting backup generators because of emergencies.

He said the company had hired contractors throughout the country to install generators at various cell sites.

“They’re doing this nationwide,” he said. “It’s a prime initiative.”

Rebner said the generator would be tested once a month but other than that wouldn’t run unless there was an electrical outage. When there is an outage, the generator will power the AT&T tower and the town’s water pump. The company is installing a 100 kilowatt generator instead of its usual 30 kilowatt generator to ensure it can handle the town’s power needs as well as those of the AT&T cell antennas during an outage.

“The tradeoff is we’re not charging them rent for this but they’re giving us the capability of having power to that tower if we were to have a grid power outage,” Lawrence said.

He said the only cost facing the town was the one-time expense of hooking the generator up to the town’s system. Lawrence expects that to cost between $1,000 and $1,500.

AT&T will handle the generator’s maintenance and fuel needs. The company is also required to leave the generator there for at least five years once it’s installed. Rebner said the company didn’t typically remove generators once they were installed anyway.

“Once they’re there, they’re there,” he said.

The council voted 5-0 to approve the agreement.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.