Blizzards. Ice Storms. Hurricanes. Floods. New Yorkers are used to being buffeted by Mother Nature. But increasingly, it seems, the impact of such storms has lingered long after the weather front blows through, with hundreds or thousands or even millions of residents left in the dark. Beyond the inconvenience—the loss of modern-day necessities like television and air-conditioning—power outages can wreak havoc on condominium residents left in the dark. According to the Eaton Corporation’s blackout tracker, last year in New York,10,918,400 residents were affected by 159 outages.
In times of emergency, like a power outage due to foul weather or a fire in the building, certain aspects of many multifamily structures must function properly; steps must be free and clear so people can use them, and doors to stairways must function. In larger buildings, common areas, corridors and elevators usually are illuminated through the power provided by an emergency generator.
“Last year in the United States over 40 million people lost power and New York City was hit particularly hard during Hurricane Irene. When Irene hit New York City on August 28, power was knocked out for more than one million New Yorkers,” says Gary Moody of Silent Standby Power Supply LLC, a nationwide distributor of battery powered generators. From August 20-29, 2011, Hurricane Irene barreled through the Caribbean and the entire Eastern Seaboard, causing 56 deaths and widespread destruction accounting for nearly $19 billion in damages.
“This is nothing new—power goes out all the time—but in the worst-case scenario of power outages, it can be life threatening.”
Some commercial high-rise buildings have backup power to service the elevators when power goes out but it’s not required. Some larger New York City co-ops and condos, like Co-op City, Penn South and North Shore Towers, have even installed co-generation plants and have emergency power backup in case of an outage. However, according to the New York City Department of Buildings, the building code doesn’t require residential buildings to have emergency power backup.