Residents battle Eversource to pay for damages after strong power surges

CARVER, Mass. — People in one Carver neighborhood are struggling to recover from a power surge so strong it burned electrical meters and fried appliances, and some homeowners tell Boston 25 News that recovering money for the damages is proving to be difficult.

This story started with an email one Carver resident submitted to Boston 25 News. Tracey Alberti owns a home and a tire business on Tremont Street. This is part of the email:

“On 12/25/17 there was a power surge on my street.  I incurred $3,700 in losses for appliances in my home and $45,000 in losses for my shop equipment at our family business.  Eversource denied our claim forcing us to use our homeowners and business insurance.

“On 3/2/18 we had another power surge. This loss has amounted to $4,700 for the house and $2,500 for the business.”

When we called Alberti she explained her situation was not unique.

At least a dozen of her neighbors were also impacted by the same power surges and combined damages total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The majority of the homes and businesses are located in the 200 block of Tremont Street.

Last week Boston 25 News met with nine of the impacted home and business owners.

Charles Card said the Christmas day power spike and failure, “Burned the meter off my house, burned the meter off my shop, burned the stove right out so we cooked Christmas dinner on a wood stove.”

Matt Arguin, owner Southcoast Kitchen Designs said the March 2 surge was so powerful, “We lost our elevator control panel, all of our handicap access doors as well as two our zones from our heating system.”

In an email to Boston 25 an Eversource spokesperson wrote, “both incidents were related to separate wind storms causing significant damage to the electric system in Carver and other local communities.”

You might assume Eversource would be liable for the damage, but Boston 25 News found that is typically not the case when it’s “weather related.”

According to Charlie Harak, senior attorney for energy and utilities issues at the National Consumer Law Center in Boston, the burden typically falls on the customer unless it can be proven the utility cut corners or failed to address known problems.

The residents Boston 25 News spoke with said the damage they’re dealing with appears to far exceed what a weather related power surge and after we brought this to Eversource’s attention the company agreed to investigate.

This is part of the email Eversource sent Boston 25 News:

“In consideration of the timing of the storm and our ongoing tree removal work in the area, we’re going to take another look at all of the facts involved in this incident and the resulting claims.”

We will update when Eversource completes the investigation.