Picture this: It’s a sweltering summer day — the kind where going outside is a task in itself. The humidity soaks your shirt, and the sun crisps any exposed skin. You’re watching mindless television while your tiny window air conditioner hums on full blast.
Without warning, you notice a flickering light in the periphery of your vision. Your episode of “Game of Thrones,” or whatever your binge-worthy flavor is, shuts off abruptly, and all the power in the room goes out.
You begin to panic, not only because you were left at a cliffhanger, but you’re starting to perspire at an alarming rate.
Before heading down to the fuse box to restart the circuit breaker, you contemplate the grim possibility that flipping the little black switch off and then on again might not fix the power.
Much to your dismay, it doesn’t.
Have no fear — there are plenty of friendly local electricians that will come directly to your home to help.
The Local spoke with some of the Island’s unsung heroes, the electricians, about what their day-to-day work consists of. Whether it’s fixing a fuse box or providing electricity to an entire building complex, these folks deserve a shout-out.
We spoke with Craig Willett of Willett Electric first, and heard about some of the projects he and his crew have been working on.
Willett Electric, Edgartown
Describe a large project you’re working on.
We have been working on a massive renovation, and pretty much just completely redoing the wiring system, at the Governor Mayhew Building of the Harbor View Hotel. There was a substantial fire in January, and we are miraculously gutting the entire thing and rewiring it. It’s pretty incredible how much work is involved — definitely a massive undertaking.
Tell me a little bit about some of the more fun or interesting projects you’ve encountered.
Well, we do a lot of work in renewable energy. For instance, we work directly with Tesla motors to install chargers all around the Island. The electric cars are definitely becoming more prevalent, and as more people drive Teslas, they require more charging stations. There are two chargers at the Harbor View Hotel, and there are some at Cronig’s. We have even been doing a lot of wall chargers for private residences. All the chargers can be connected to solar panels to be self-sustaining and self-contained.
Do you do any solar work for the town?
For awhile, we have been working on the electric VTA buses. We are preparing to put in a large service at the Airport Business Park VTA headquarters. It seems like they are trying to shift away from diesel pumps and create an entirely electric fleet. All the chargers will be connected to solar panels, which will create 4,000 amps of electricity to charge each one of the buses. There might also be chargers at the Church Street visitors’ station in Edgartown.
After speaking with Craig, we had a chat with Jarret Brissette of Brissette Electric.
Brissette Electric, Vineyard Haven
How many people do you work with?
We have 10 people working right now. I would say everyone is in a pretty good place — everyone enjoys the work and works well with each other. It’s fun working with new people, and then also working with guys I grew up with. It’s just a really neat mix; I really have met some great people here.
What are some major undertakings you recall on the job?
Well, we do pretty much all the work at the high school. We did the greenhouse for the Career Technical Education department, and we put in the walk-in fridge in the cafeteria. Those were both big projects, with lots of hours involved. We also do lots of private utilities and residential systems.
Any trends coming up in your line of work?
We are definitely doing lots of solar. We do off-grid systems that are not connected with Eversource at all. These types of systems are the future. We also do a lot of Tesla systems like chargers and batteries. It really seems like everyone is getting solar energy and electric cars — that’s the direction I see things going. Most of our solar work is contracted out to South Mountain Co.
Are you busier during the summer? Is there a peak season for electricians?
It’s pretty steadily busy throughout the year, although we do have lots of deadlines in the spring. We keep active with all the building projects — we just finished up Herring Creek Farm, and continue to see lots of farm buildings going up that need power.
Last but not least, we spoke with electrician Scott Merritt.
Merritt Electric, Vineyard Haven
How long have you been an electrician?
I got into the trade 11 years ago.
What have you been working on?
We have been working with a lot of Lutron Electronics systems. This is basically automated control of lighting and even appliances from your smartphone. Whether it’s an integrated sound system, window shades, heating and cooling systems, or appliances like stoves or coffee makers, it can be controlled remotely from anywhere in the world. You can wire any outlet into the system and set timers and schedules. If you have trouble getting out of bed, you can set the Lutron system so your shades open in the morning for a little encouragement.
What direction do you see your field going in?
I am definitely seeing a lot of alternative energy these days. I hope that we can go in the direction of renewable energy and get more people using solar and smart appliances. I think things like electric cars and solar energy will take the world by storm.
Your favorite thing about being an electrician?
My favorite thing about my job is that the technology is always evolving. I am a very techie person, so I enjoy learning about all the new technology that emerges pretty regularly, such as Lutron and electric car batteries and chargers. As far as being an electrician on Martha’s Vineyard goes, my favorite thing about that is the comradery among electricians. It is not a common thing where your friends are also your competitors. We lend each other tools, manpower, and even pass on work to each other if one company is too busy — that isn’t something you see elsewhere.