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Con Edison Points to Record-Breaking Power Usage to Explain Shutdown – The New York Times

Con Edison Points to Record-Breaking Power Usage to Explain Shutdown – The New York Times

[What you need to know to start the day:

By 5:30 p.m. on Monday, 5,000 customers in southeast Brooklyn still remained without electricity but were expected to have it restored later that evening, according to Con Edison.

Of the more than three million customers that Con Edison serves in New York City and suburban Westchester County, more than 12,000 were without power as strong thunderstorms rolled into the area Monday night, bringing high winds and heavy rain that flooded many city streets.

The mayor said on Twitter the city was braced in the event the storm knocked out power to even more residents.

Sunday’s power failure marked the second weekend in a row that parts of the city had been plunged into darkness, amplifying New Yorkers’ indignation.

The service disruption came at the end of the city’s first heat wave of the year, with temperatures reaching the mid-90s for three days in a row. Like much of the country, the New York region was under an extreme heat advisory over the weekend, as a so-called heat dome spread from the central United States toward the Great Lakes and the East Coast.

The thermometer fell to 80 degrees in New York City overnight, and the National Weather Service predicted cooler temperatures at the start of the week, though it cautioned that temperatures could rise again by the coming weekend.

“This was obviously a predictable situation, and therefore, preventable,” Mr. de Blasio said, standing outside a command post in Brooklyn that had been set up to help people affected by the power shutdowns. “What we’re getting continually is no clarity, no answers, no real timelines from Con Ed.”

Both Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Cuomo said Con Edison should have been better prepared for the higher-than-usual power demand given the ample warnings from meteorologists about the heat.

The city, however, was in good company. Massive power failures occurred in parts of Michigan and Wisconsin, where severe storms and fierce winds brought down power lines.

In southeast Michigan, where temperatures also rose above 90 degrees over the weekend, around 600,000 customers of DTE Energy lost electricity, and about 250,000 were still without power on Monday morning, the company said.

But with no storms to blame, the blackout in Brooklyn seemed to sting all the more on the heels of last weekend’s power failures along Manhattan’s West Side and in Midtown.

Last Saturday, an equipment failure unexpectedly left a swath of Manhattan in darkness on another warm weekend evening. More than 70,000 customers were without electricity for more than three hours.

Both Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio, who was campaigning last weekend for president in Iowa, had heaped criticism on Con Edison a week ago, with Mr. Cuomo calling for an independent state investigation into the Manhattan blackout.

The governor went so far as to threaten to have the state Public Service Commission revoke Con Edison’s license as the sole distributor of electricity in virtually the entire city and parts of suburban Westchester County.

While Sunday’s shutdown affected fewer people, it has taken far longer for Con Edison to restore power, and Mr. Cuomo called for state investigators to widen their inquiry to include the newer failures.

In a radio interview on Monday, the governor continued to harangue Con Edison.

“They can lose their franchise. We have changed utilities in the past,” Mr. Cuomo said. “It’s not easy, but we do a lot of things that aren’t easy. And, legally, it’s possible.”

The city’s public advocate, Jumaane D. Williams, who previously represented parts of Brooklyn affected by the power failures on the City Council, said in a video posted to Twitter on Monday morning that he had been told, incorrectly, that power would be restored by midnight.

“There’s still no electricity in many parts,” he said. “This is outrageous. Con Edison, you have so many questions that you need to answer.”

On Monday, Mr. de Blasio also said he felt that Con Edison had not provided a satisfactory explanation for either weekend mishap. He echoed Mr. Cuomo’s calls for an investigation and suggested that it was time for the city and the state to consider a public agency as a replacement to Con Edison, which is a private company.

“At this point, I do not have faith in Con Ed,” he said.

Regulators have penalized Con Edison for blackouts in the past. In 2007, the state Public Service Commission hit the company with an $18 million penalty for power failures, including a nine-day blackout in western Queens in 2006.

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