Apartments on the seventh through 16th floors of Franklin Towers now have limited electric service, but full service won’t be restored for another week. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Partial electric service has been restored to the top 10 floors of Franklin Towers, where power was knocked out during a strong thunderstorm a week ago.

The partial service – enough to power about three outlets per apartment – has been restored to units on floors 7 through 16, said Cheryl Sessions, executive director of the Portland Housing Authority.

Power to apartments throughout the building was knocked out a week ago, but electricity was still flowing to the elevators, hallways and fire alarm system in the 200-unit building, which provides housing for the elderly and disabled. Full service to units on floors 2-6 was restored the next day. But officials said a mechanical part that helps provide electricity to apartments on floors 7-16 failed and must be replaced to get electricity flowing to units on upper stories.

That part was located earlier this week in New Mexico, officials said, was shipped to Maine and expected to arrive Friday.

The partial service that electricians have hooked up this week can be used for lighting and other casual uses, such as charging electronic devices. But Sessions said it’s not enough to power heavier electric loads, such as those for stoves or air conditioners.

The authority has provided extension cords so tenants can continue to run the refrigerators in their units and microwave ovens have been set up in common areas. In addition, three meals a day are being brought in for residents, provided by Preble Street and served by volunteers.


Sessions said a replacement for the part that failed during the storm a week ago, a “bus bar,” would be in Portland on Friday and an electrical contractor had already begun preparing for the part’s installation, providing a permanent fix for the problem.

“They still expect full power by the end of next week,” she said.

Franklin Towers, which was built in 1969, passed its city inspections this year. Portland’s Permitting and Inspection Department performed a housing inspection in February and a general building inspection in April. The electrical system was inspected and passed in May and the city sent another electrical inspector Monday, three days after the power failed in the building.

The inspector reported that power was lost to all apartments in the building shortly after the storm on Aug. 26 and was restored to lower floor units the next day. The inspector also noted that major life safety systems weren’t compromised by the power failure.

Housing Authority officials have said they believe the storm was responsible for the power failure, but haven’t confirmed the cause. A similar piece of equipment was responsible for a power failure to residents on lower floors more than a year ago after an apartment flooded. Power was restored more quickly then because the electrical contractor was able to more readily locate a replacement part, authority officials said.

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