Life support

Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet power outages, Eversource life support


The Jan. 29 blizzard left nearly 6,000 Eversource customers in Provincetown without power for at least 15 hours, and another 1,500 in Truro, amid widespread outages on Cape Cod.

During an outage, among the most vulnerable Eversource customers were those relying on electricity for refrigeration of medicine or life support such as oxygen, according to public comments made in Provincetown in the aftermath of the storm.

“Do any of you know how much insulin costs? Mary-Jo Avellar, a former board member and town moderator, said at a meeting of the Provincetown board on February 14. “I do, and it’s well into the several hundred dollars.”

Eversource’s first priority during a storm like the January blizzard is to ensure cables and hazards are removed to allow public safety officials to navigate the roads, said Ronit Goldstein, chief Eversource Community Relations at the February 14 board meeting.

The second priority during a storm is to restore power remotely, through computerized switches, and the third priority is to use line workers in bucket trucks once the weather permits.

Priority areas during a storm, however, would be vulnerable populations and critical facilities, according to Eversource comments made in recent public meetings.

“We have a program for medical customers who rely on electricity for life-saving purposes,” Goldstein said. The program requires a doctor’s note, she said.

Goldstein mentioned the survival program at the Feb. 14 meeting in Provincetown and at a Feb. 22 public meeting in Truro.

What is the program ?

The power company offers its customers a “Life Support” designation option for those who need it. The option doesn’t guarantee uninterrupted service, but it does provide customers with special alerts that help make backup arrangements before an outage occurs, said Chris McKinnon, senior media relations specialist at Eversource.

Eversource was unable to release the local number of customers designated as a survival account due to privacy concerns, McKinnon said. About 120 clients have enrolled in the program in eastern Massachusetts, he said.

“It’s not something clients simply sign up for, it requires written certification from a doctor and must be recertified every year,” McKinnon said.

Any customer who has a family member with a serious medical condition requiring survival equipment should call 800-592-2000 to enroll in the Survival Customer Program.

How it works?

When a customer calls to enroll in the program, they will be asked to provide their Eversource account number, based on a recent call a reporter from Banner made to the number and after speaking with a representative from the company when calling.

After verification of an Eversource account, a letter will be sent to the customer’s address explaining how the program works. The client will be asked to complete paperwork and return it with a letter of certification from a physician confirming all medical equipment needed to support that person.

Once the information is received by Eversource and all information is confirmed, the customer’s account will be noted as a life support customer.

Therefore, priority will be given to this account during any electrical emergency, according to the representative.

The company cannot guarantee electricity, but the customer would be added to the top of a list of people to receive their electricity as soon as a problem is resolved, according to the representative.

Eversource Life Support Program

Eversource customers who have anyone in the household who needs power to maintain life support equipment can be designated as a “life support” account through a company program that requires a letter from a physician . Call 800-592-2000 to enroll in the Life Support Customer Program.

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