Conned again

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ConEd's statement:

NEW YORK - Con Edison wants its customers in Northwest Queens to know that our crews are doing everything possible to restore power to its customers affected by the recent heat wave. The damage to our equipment was significant and extensive. We worked very closely with customers, businesses and city officials this week to ensure that outages weren't more widespread. We have hundreds of crews working around the clock in the area to assess the damage and repair many power cables, and will keep our customers updated as best as possible as to when full restorations will occur.

We appreciate their continued cooperation and patience during this difficult time. [that's the whole thing, really]

Ah, yes, that clears everything up. At least the mayor showed up to talk tough, as reported by the New York Times:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg held a news conference in Astoria Park to reassure residents that he was pressing Consolidated Edison to restore power and telling them he was sending hundreds of city workers to help them.

Some residents of the affected areas complained that the city has ignored a prolonged blackout that affected several neighborhoods in western Queens, which happens to be where most of the city's power plants are located....

Asked why it took him four days to visit the affected neighborhoods, survey the extent of the power losses and address the problem, Mr. Bloomberg said he was working closely with Con Edison, pressuring it to restore electricity.

Asked when power would be restored, he said by Sunday, if not earlier, but added, "This is a business where there are no guarantees."

As for why only Queens neighborhoods were affected, the mayor said Con Edison officials explained that 10 of the 22 feeder cables bringing power from the regional power grid to western Queens had been damaged, causing "a sort of cascading effect." Power surged into the remaining cables, overloading them.

He said all but three cables have been repaired, and power had been restored to major buildings, including the Citicorp building in Long Island City and on Rikers Island, which had to use emergency generators at one point.

"It sounds a bit archaic," the mayor said, explaining that 300 Con Edison teams would go through the affected neighborhoods, "opening every single manhole cover" to look for problems with electrical cables. They will also patrol streets looking for darkened houses, to find the areas still lacking power.

He said Con Edison would consider accepting an offer from the Long Island Power Authority to use some of its work crews.

Helen Marshall, the Queens borough president, said, "It’s ironic that people who can look at these generators, most of them from their windows, are suffering from this outage."  [full article]

We don't have it as bad as some. We have little or no power on the circuit to the front of the house, and none to any of the overhead lights, but we have enough power in the back of the house to keep the fridge and a small window A/C unit running, and it's only been this way since late Tuesday night. But still, the darkened neighborhood is eerie as hell at night, people are restless and impatient as the neighborhood simmers, there is still chaos at intersections where people don't know what how to proceed when traffic lights or switches aren't working, and the most frequently spotted activity of ConEd crews is standing around smoking.

I'm not the first to ask this, but I wonder how long it would have taken the mayor to show up and ConEd to restore power if this had been Manhattan? Or if ConEd incurred a power-loss penalty from Astoria like it no doubt does with the Citicorp building in Long Island City?

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on July 21, 2006 9:29 AM.

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