The 8% solution

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When you call ConEd today, they'll report an 8% voltage reduction in northwestern Queens. In our bit of Astoria, though, it's more like 8% voltage period.

For a couple of days now, throughout the heat wave, our power has flickered from time to time. We had pared our electricity usage down to bare essentials, like air conditioning and some lights. But last night, sometime between 11:00 and 11:30, the voltage fell drastically. Some appliances still ran, like the cheap digital clocks and the fan in the bedroom and the fluorescent light over the kitchen sink. But throughout most of our floor, there was not even enough power to run the lights. (The circuit breakers were all fine—I checked them.)

We sweated through the night with the windows open, though at least the thunderstorm last night had cooled things down. But there were lots of sirens.

By morning, a few of the incandescent lights showed a very faint orange glow if you turned them on. I called 311 and ConEd both, but got no helpful information. Laura took Ella out for a walk and gathered more helpful intelligence: electrical fires in the power lines all over our neighborhood. One man reported watching all the power lines for blocks around catch fire and burn. At 31st Avenue and about 44th Street, Laura herself saw a ConEd manhole cover in the street with black smoke pouring out it while it danced and popped and crackled. It was cordoned off and guarded by a cop.

So it's not just a problem at our local substation. It's the neighborhood electrical infrastructure that's been going up in smoke. We're lucky to have any power at all, I'm sure, but I wonder how long this is all going to take to get fixed, especially with more high-profile outages in Westchester and the Bronx.

(Don't even get me started on the nightmare that was the commute into the city this morning. Thanks to the power problems, the V wasn't even running from 71st Street in Queens to 2nd Avenue in Manhattan.)

[ original post:  http://shunn.livejournal.com/315335.html ]

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on July 19, 2006 9:37 AM.

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