NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Con Edison is on the griddle.
State officials have vowed to subject the utility to a strenuous investigation of why it intentionally threw the switch that left tens of thousands without power in the middle of a heat wave, as both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio fumed.
CBS2’s Marcia Kramer is demanding answers.
It’s not something you see very often — overhead power wires in Brooklyn on fire and burning up. It may be one of the reasons Con Ed intentionally turned off the power to 33,000 homes in southeast Brooklyn on Sunday, leaving three times that number — 100,000 people — to swelter.
Kramer asked Con Ed spokesman Mike Clendenin why those overheard wires were not prepared for the heat wave.
“The overhead wires are actually fed by circuits underground,” Clendenin said. “We started to have a problem with the underground equipment and that feeds the overhead equipment. If we didn’t take out those wires of service there could’ve been damage and the outages would have been a lot longer.”
The move infuriated the governor.
“It’s not acceptable,” Cuomo said. “I don’t accept Con Ed saying, ‘Well, there was a heat wave.'”
And the mayor.
“No answers whatsoever as to why this happened,” de Blasio said.
Sources at the state Public Service Commission told CBS2 the utility will have to face the music, explain what happened and why it wasn’t prepared and defend its decision to take the system down.
Kramer was demanding answers even before the state investigation got under way.
She asked Clendenin if there is any excuse for having the outage.
“No, there’s never an excuse for outages. We don’t find any outage acceptable,” Clendenin said. “Sometimes equipment doesn’t behave the way you think it will.”
Kramer asked why outages due to heat don’t happen in other cities.
“If you think about heat and its impact on mechanical equipment, it can cause it to break down sometimes,” Clendenin said.
“Why here and not other places?” Kramer followed up.
“There are outages. If you look at the heat wave that just happened, other cities had power outages. We certainly had more than we expected,” Clendenin said.
State officials told Kramer one of the reasons Con Ed’s system is more susceptible, is because a large part of the system — 96,000 miles of cable — is underground, making it more more susceptible to salt damage in the winter and, sources said, heat damage in the summer.
Kramer asked if it’s possible to build in some kind of insulation.
“All cable, all equipment has insulation around it. It’s l like you car when it overheats. It’s running great until it doesn’t,” Clendenin said.
Both the governor and the mayor said they want real answers about whether Con Ed is spending is money wisely.
Meanwhile, Kramer was surprised to learn that while we pay through to nose to get electricity, we only rank only sixth in the nation. Hawaii, Alaska, Massachusetts, Connecticut and California pay more, according to the United States Energy Information Association.