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Can Con Ed Keep Up With Demand In The Face Of This Heat? We Will Find Out

So Far, So Good For Utility; Only Tiny Percentage Of Outages Reported
Con Ed truck

Con Ed trucks haven’t been seen all that much during the first heatwave of the year, but it’s still early. (Photo: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With the mercury rising, many are wondering if Consolidated Edison will be able to deal with increased power demands.

Con Ed reported only 160 outages among their 3.1 million customers as of about 4 p.m., but one of their biggest headaches was in Tribeca, where fried cables cut power to dozens of homes and businesses, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

Con Ed repair boss Dan Simon had the grid map out trying to decide how to fix the power outage. He had a platoon of men and trucks, and burned wires and cables littered the street on several corners, but businesses on West Broadway near Warren were still in the dark.

“No, it’s tough; it’s tough,” Simon said.

At one point Friday morning Con Ed was reporting a little less than 1,000 outages, a far cry from the 2006 Long Island City blackout that left 174,000 customers in the dark for more than a week.

Still, if it was your business that had no power you weren’t happy. One Jamba Juice store on West Broadway depends on hot weather for customers.

“It’s very disturbing you know? It’s the hottest day of the year and in my business we wait for this time of the year. I hope they get it back up pretty soon,” owner Robert Carter said.

“Power went out last night, not so good for business right now, especially businesses carrying food. A lot of food is getting spoiled already. In a recession, adds insult to injury,” said Verizon Wireless employee Barry Mann.

Kramer visited a local sushi store, but it, too, had no power, the owner said.

Con Ed officials said they’ve spent more than $9 billion fixing the system since the 2006 blackout, including new cables, new transformers and new substations.

“The power is still flowing to our 3 million customers right now. We’re managing the system, monitoring the usage right now. We expect that we’ll come close to setting a record today,” Con Ed’s Mike Clendenin said.

Clendenin also spoke of “vampire” power, where appliances are really on when owners think they are off.

“The fact that when you have a phone or any device that’s electronic and you plug it in to charge it and you take it off that thing is still drawing electricity unless you unplug the charger,” Clendenin said.

For many New Yorkers, vampires are just things you find in movies, not in your living room or den. So, they were surprise to learn that they could be doing more to put a stake in the heart of a vampire and help save electricity.

“I didn’t switch anything off, actually,” Caroline Crone said. “I am naughty, but now I know. I’ll go and do it.”

“Oh, I’m an electricity vampire,” the Lower East Side’s Laura Cartagena said with a laugh.

“I’m unplugging most of my appliances, and stuff not using my AC. I’m using my fan, you know, so I’m going green,” added Hilary Bryant of Fresh Meadows, Queens.

Clendenin said the more help Con Ed gets from the community the better off everyone will be.

“So we really recommend people to unplug those things or hook it up to a smart strip and it’s one flip of the switch, then you turn it off,” Clendenin said.

The utility said the Tribeca blackout was an example of the system working. The call came in at 10:40 p.m. Wednesday. Crews arrived 30 minutes later. They worked through the night and by mid-afternoon power was restored

However, officials said they were bracing for the possibility of more outages when people got home Friday night and demand goes up.

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