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Mayor Demands Answers As Parts Of City Still Dark

NStar Working To Restore Power After Fire Boston Transformer Fire

March 15, 2012

BOSTON -- Mayor Thomas M. Menino on Thursday called for the review and inspection of NStar generators that supply electricity to the city after a transformer fire plunged Boston's Back Bay and neighboring areas into darkness.
Power had been restored to about 17,000 customers by Thursday, but NStar said the restoration process of the underground system is extremely complex. Crews have laid more than two miles of temporary high-voltage wires along city streets in an effort to get full service restored, and dozens of generators have been deployed to provide emergency power.

"I will appoint a panel to review the generators and the reason why we lost the power over the last several days. There have to be new rules and regulations put in place," Menino said after meeting with NStar officials Thursday.

The mayor said the city has spent about $85,000 on overtime dealing with the outage.

"We want to get reimbursed for those costs. It was not caused by us. It was caused by the power outage over the last 48 hours," Menino said.

Menino said he is concerned for small business in the area that have not been able to operate since the fire. He is asking NStar to set up an office to answer any questions city businesses may have about the outage.

Menino outlined three areas of long-term concern as the power restoration and recovery moves forward, including effects on businesses and residents, a plan for a permanent fix and ways to prevent a similar incident in the future. He called on NStar to provide a plan and analysis on the city's electricity needs.

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said while power is being restored, there are still some concerns, such as spotty traffic control signals. He said officers would keep a heavy presence in the area.

"There are large construction projects that are going on all over this area that will require a police presence and patience by drivers," Davis said.

Initially, about 21,000 customers were without power. NStar said by 3 p.m. Thursday, all customers except those in the Prudential Center had power restored.

A 115,000-volt transformer blew Tuesday evening, with the blast sending billowing black smoke over the city and triggering major evacuations. Hundreds of guests were evacuated from hotels surrounding the blast. No one was seriously hurt in the incident.

The Massachusetts Turnpike will be shut down in both directions at the Prudential Tunnel as work crews disconnect the generator currently providing power to the lights and ventilation system and then re-splice the wires to the power grid.

The switchover is scheduled for overnight Sunday into Monday, beginning at midnight with targeted completion time no later than 5 a.m.