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Couple Chooses Generator Over No Power

When Susie and Patrick Horgan lost power for six days in the dead of winter in 2007, they thought seriously about getting a generator. "We decided it was too expensive," says Susie. The couple, who live in antique house that was once a post office in Wilton, Conn., decided to take their chances despite the misery of living without heating, air-conditioning or water.

Then came tropical storm Irene. They lost power for five days. The final straw was the freak October snowstorm that left them in the dark - and shivering - for another five days. The misery of that last storm "pushed us to get a generator, once and for all," Susie says.

The Horgans discovered that getting a generator installed was far from simple. The propane-fueled, fully automatic system they selected would provide enough power for water and septic pumps as well as lighting for the home. Susie was astonished when the electric company they called gave them an appointment six weeks out. The Horgans are still waiting for a final estimate for their new power supply. "Getting the permit is taking forever," Susie says." Town Hall [where building permits are issued] must be overwhelmed."

Losing power chez Horgan is not just a domestic inconvenience. Susie is a personal life coach and depends on her phone to keep in touch with clients. "There was a limit to the number of times I could run down to Starbucks to charge my phone," she says. She estimates that she lost two weeks' income as a result of the power outage.

Patrick believes losing power will be an increasingly frequent occurrence. He thinks the weather is becoming more severe and freakish. "We have such vulnerable electric wires and poles," he says. "We should weigh the cost of repairing the increasing number of outages with the cost of burying wires underground. This would provide employment and make storms much less of a hardship for all of us."

In the meantime, the Horgans are trying to be patient and keeping their fingers crossed that their generator will up and running before another storm hits.

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