As a three-day heatwave ends for most of the Northeast and Midwestern states, New York City has reported yet another massive power outage for the second weekend in a row.
This one left nearly, 50,000 New Yorkers without power on Sunday night. By 5 am Monday morning it was reported that almost 30,000 of those customers had power back. But for another 20,000, they will remain without power until Monday afternoon, according to a local utility company’s online outage map.
Con Edison, the utility company responsible for the blackout, said they shut power off to customers in southeast Brooklyn and Westchester County amid the heatwave so it could make repairs. According to Con Ed, the dangerously high temperatures and the higher than usual demand for electricity, as a result, were causing overhead power lines the area to overload. If they weren’t shut down and fixed, they would have created a more extensive outage that would spread to other parts of the city.
Outside temperatures in the area had hovered in the upper 90s for several days with humidity levels that made it feel much hotter.
However, Mayor Bill de Blasio is not at all satisfied with the company’s answer. Both he and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo agree that the utility should have been ready for the high temperatures and higher-than-usual power demand.
Cuomo said in a Twitter post on Sunday, “We’ve been through this situation w ConEd time & again & they should have been better prepared – period.” He added, “This was not a natural disaster; there is no excuse for what has happened in Brooklyn.”
Mr. de Blasio said while standing near a temporary command post set up in Brooklyn for those needing aid amid the power outage, “This was obviously a predictable situation, and therefore, preventable.”
In the wake of the power outage, de Blasio said that the city’s emergency management had sent out personnel throughout the southeast Brooklyn area to assist people in need, keep people safe, and respond to emergencies as needed.
In addition, Governor Cuomo said he had deployed 200 state troopers, 100 generators, and 50 light towers to the area. Command vehicles, air-conditioned buses, and personnel from the state Office of Emergency Management were also sent to aid the citizens of New York.
The Red Cross, in partnership with city officials, set up emergency shelters for those needed relief from the heat or medical attention. The shelters remained open this morning as the power is not expected to be fully restored until later this afternoon.
Mr. de Blasio is even more frustrated with the lack of communication with the utility. He says, “What we’re getting continually is no clarity, no answers, and no real timelines form Con Ed.” He continued saying that he no longer has any faith in the company.
And even though temperatures Monday morning are lower than they have been in several days, de Blasio says, “It’s still hot and people have a right to be frustrated. We’re pushing Con Ed to get power back as fast as possible.”
However, he also said that the private utility company is “not accountable to the public in a way a public agency would be,” and they are “very haughty about this.” He said, “They don’t give real answers, and they don’t feel they have to.”
After an outage affecting nearly 70,000 customers last weekend on July 13 in Manhattan, the Governor ordered an investigation into the reason why. The earlier outage said to have been caused by equipment failures, left 40 blocks of Manhattan from Times Square to Rockefeller Center without power for nearly five hours.
Governor Cuomo, in light of this most recent power outage, has called for the probe to be expanded to include both incidents. De Blasio has also called for an investigation into the practices and structure of the utility company in the hopes that it might keep them more accountable to its customers.
The mayor said, “At this point, I do not have faith in Con Ed.”
The utility company has not made any comments on the issue, except to say that power should be returned by Monday afternoon.