Warranty 'void' on Ocean View generator

The Town of Ocean View narrowly avoided possible legal action late last month by paying Archer Electric the balance of the installation cost of the backup generator at the temporary police station. But problems with the generator still loom.

Ocean View Councilman Bill Wichmann violated town code earlier this year by personally authorizing the $16,000 installation of the generator without receiving other bids or consulting the town. The resulting flawed installation has left the generator’s warranty void and caused safety problems, according to two officials.

At a May meeting, council voted to pay half of the installation costs, despite the violation, but held the remainder until receiving a detailed installation invoice. According to Mayor Gary Meredith, Archer Electric officials threatened legal action if the company didn’t receive full payment. Meredith said that the town did receive that invoice before voting to pay the remainder.

Still, the temporary installation of the generator is causing problems for the town. Officials from Kelly Generator and Equipment, who inspected the installation, reported that the 130-kilowatt generator is not meant for temporary use and should be installed on a concrete slab or other “suitable surface.”

The generator is currently bolted to its shipping crate, which is sitting on pieces of lumber outside the temporary police station off of Central Avenue in Ocean View. Safety issues could arise from such a setup, according to KGE service representative. A representative from Guardian Generac — the generator’s manufacturer — sent Councilman Roy Thomas an e-mail on July 6 regarding the temporary installation, stating that the generator’s warranty is void because of the setup.

“All of our liquid cooled generators (including the QT130) are required to be on a concrete slab as stated in the manual,” the e-mail from Eric Daniel of Guardian Generac reads. “The shipping crate is not authorized as being part of the installation. Without the generator being properly installed, the warranty would be void until it has been corrected.”

Safety issues surrounding the generator were the focus of a late-June special town council meeting. Nik Dubish, a service consultant at KGE, confirmed that the Ford 6.8-liter V10-powered generator could explode if a fall impacted its fuel lines.

Such a fall could be caused by engine vibrations, and could only minimally damage the generator or not damage it at all. Dubish, who didn’t inspect the installation himself but read from one of his employees’ reports, said that the safety issues could arise — especially if Ocean View experienced flooding similar to that produced by torrential rain recently in Western Sussex County.

“With the flooding, who knows” what could happen, he said, adding that the generator could be picked up by floodwaters. “Best-case, it doesn’t do anything. Worst-case scenario, the fuel line could rip off (possibly causing an explosion) … being that it’s not secured. “If that is not set up right, it could possibly do some damage,” Dubish added.

The inspector also found that the three-phase generator does not match the single-phase triple-wide temporary station and that a low coolant level could possibly prevent the generator from working.

Council ultimately voted to hire an engineer to evaluate the situation or rent a temporary generator for the remainder of the time the police department is housed in the triple-wide temporary station.