Tag Archives: Con Edison

Con Ed to invest $250 million to protect equipment against future storms


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Con Ed has announced that it will secure $250 million for protecting city infrastructure and maintaining reliable service for customers during storms such as Sandy.

“Our commitment would represent an initial infusion of preventive measures [and] we expect that even greater investments will be needed as regional discussions evolve over the coming months and years,” the company said in a statement.

Con Ed invests nearly $2 billion annually in electric, gas and steam systems, but this $250 million will be reserved specifically for measures that can help protect critical equipment from flood damage.

To execute these measures, Con Ed would raise electrical relay houses in substations, install stronger barriers and flood pumps, and potentially put major overhead power lines underground.

“Con Ed recognizes that, in order to withstand a Category 2 hurricane, it needs to significantly harden its . . . systems,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “As this planning work begins, we’ll also have to look to identify steps we can take immediately.”

Gov. Cuomo receives high marks for Sandy response


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

In a new Siena College poll, the majority of New York State voters said they were happy with how Governor Andrew Cuomo has handled the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

According to the results, 67 percent felt that the governor has done an excellent or good job, 22 percent said he has done a fair job and seven percent said he’s done a poor job.

In New York City, a slightly higher percentage, 70 percent, gave Cuomo a high rating.

In an effort to help with Sandy relief,  the  governor is travelling to Washington D.C. today to lobby for about $42 billion that the state needs to recover from the storm and protect itself from the next significant weather event.

State voters were almost as pleased with how President Obama and Mayor Michael Bloomberg handled the superstorm.

Sixty-one percent said that Obama did an excellent or good job and 55 percent gave Bloomberg the same rating.

In a Quinnipiac University poll from two weeks ago, New York City voters thought that Obama did a better job than Governor Cuomo, but gave him higher marks than Bloomberg.

But in the same poll, voters also rated New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s handling of the storm and its aftermath higher than all three politicians.

The Siena poll did not ask state voters about Christie.

It did, however, ask about the utility companies, FEMA and the MTA.

The majority of voters were pleased with FEMA and the Metropolitan Transit Agency, but gave Con Edison mixed ratings.

Forty-nine percent said that Con Ed did a good or excellent job, while 29 percent said the utility did a fair job and 15 percent gave it a poor rating.

Voters were not as happy with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), which has received criticism on how it has responded to the storm.

Only one in six Long Islanders said LIPA did an excellent or good job with post-Sandy power problems, and 60 percent said it performed poorly.

The poll also asked about other aspects of Sandy, including how the storm affected voters—from home and business damage to school closings and power outages.

“Nearly one in seven voters suffered damage to their home, including one-quarter of downstate suburbanites. More than one-third lost their power, including more than eight in ten suburbanites.  And more than two-thirds of  New Yorkers saw their schools close for at least a day, and one-third had schools closed for at least a week,” said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg  “Not in a very long time has a natural disaster directly affected more New Yorkers than Sandy.

Additionally, the poll found that more than half of New Yorkers have made a financial contribution to a charitable organization raising money for those affected by Sandy, and 26 percent have volunteered their time.

The storm may have also forced New Yorkers to take global warming more seriously.

Because of Sandy and other significant storms from the last couple of years, 69 percent believe that they climate change is real.

Forums focus on frustrations after Sandy


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

BY MAGGIE HAYES AND TERENCE M. CULLEN

Nearly a month after Superstorm Sandy tore through south Queens, tens of thousands of residents are still struggling to restore their lives.

Councilmember James Sanders and Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder held separate forums with area residents, featuring representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), Con Edison and National Grid, seeking answers as to when their towns would be able to get back on their feet.

“I want firm dates,” said Sanders before his meeting at Public School 104. “I want to know when we will be made whole. I want to know when we’ll be back.”

As of the meeting, held on Tuesday, November 20, more than 15,000 people were still without power, according to LIPA.

LIPA representative Tom Smith stressed that utility workers have been in the area around the clock, working to repair electrical grids to get power back up and running. But the problem lies with the fact that many electrical grids were completely submerged under water during the storm, and making sure they are completely repaired has become a safety concern.

“We recognize it’s a bad situation,” said Smith. “But we’re not looking to exacerbate it by creating a fire hazard in your home.”

That same Tuesday night, Goldfeder, along with State Senator Joseph Addabbo, held their own forum at P.S. 146 in Howard Beach, where residents from the neighborhood and Broad Channel were vocal about some of the problems they still faced.

Many were irate, often yelling about response times, or walking out after hearing an unsatisfactory answer from officials.

“If I wasn’t the one standing in the front of the room,” Goldfeder said, “I would have been screaming just as loud because I’m equally as frustrated with the way things have gone over the last three weeks. I think what happened, people got a lot of answers, but not necessarily the answers they wanted or liked.”

Gary Robertson said his two homes in Hamilton Beach had lost power and he was forced to use generators to keep things running. He hired a licensed electrician to repair the homes, but was still awaiting Con Ed to come and install a new meter in one.

Robertson is most upset that he was told he would not receive reimbursement for the gallons of gas he poured into his generator, because, he said, he was told the outages were storm-related and not a direct outage by Con Ed.

“You spend all this money on everything else, you can’t get any answers,” he said. “I got answers basically from one representative that I saw and an electrician that I saw on my block.”

Another big concern for residents is with FEMA’s response time and communication.

Far Rockaway homeowner Cadim Ally has been working since the storm to repair the extensive damages to his properties – while at the same time cutting his losses.

Ally lives in one home in the area and rents out another. Both received significant water damage: Ally’s basement flooded and 13 inches of water rose above his first floor. Both houses were evaluated by FEMA.

“[My renter] had no home insurance, so they gave him a check for $9,500. He took the money, he’s gone,” said Ally.

When FEMA assessed the damages to his own home, because he is a homeowner, he was told to go through the Small Business Association to apply for loans. He did so, filling out all of the necessary paperwork, and after 10 days finally received an inspection. A loan officer will now re-evaluate Ally’s situation, and will either approve or decline his loan request. If he is denied, he will have to go back to FEMA and start his process over again.

“I’m actually sitting around every day, just waiting to hear. I don’t know what’s going on,” said Ally. “I’m filling out every piece of paperwork. I’m at a standstill.”

The need for a FEMA station in Howard Beach – and not just Broad Channel, where some cannot travel – was something Addabbo said came out of the P.S. 146 meeting. As a result, he and his colleagues are working to get an accessible FEMA center in the neighborhood.

“We got a commitment from FEMA, [we’re] just figuring out days and places,” said Addabbo.

Power is slowly being restored to the disaster areas, and residents are still doing the best they can do return to normalcy.

“We survived the storm. This was that 100-year storm,” said Sanders. “But can we do more? God willing, we can.”

Con Ed worker burned in Queens electrical accident


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A Con Edison worker was burned in the face while responding to a reported outage at a commercial building in Maspeth Monday night, said the utility company.

The employee, who was testing equipment at 55-30 46th Street, near the corner of 55th Avenue, was injured in what a Con Ed spokesperson called an “electrical flash.”

Around 9:30 p.m. the worker was transported to New York Hospital Queens with serious but non-life injuries, said the FDNY.

Op-Ed: Sandy, a natural disaster – a man-made crisis


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY COUNCILMEMBER JAMES SANDERS

Superstorm Sandy was the worst natural disaster to hit the tri-state area in years. In its wake it left a trail of devastation that stretched from Montauk to Rockaway, upending trees, power lines, and lives in the process. More than 100 homes burned to the ground as the result of a fire, sparked when salt water hit an electrical box in Breezy Point. Staten Island was literally turned on its head, and parts of Brooklyn, Nassau, Suffolk, and of course, New Jersey, will take years to rebuild.

I have always worried that in the wake of a Katrina-like event, my 31st Council District would turn into New York City’s Lower 9th Ward. Throughout my district, we saw major flooding and the loss of homes. We saw downed trees and power lines that destroyed houses and cars. The famous and historic Rockaway bungalows were devastated. Some homeowners in Rosedale dealt with more than five feet of water in basements that crept up to first floors.

For all the physical devastation wrought by Sandy, the true crisis came after the storm, when hundreds of thousands of customers of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and Con Edison were without power, many for over three weeks. As of this writing, more than 300 LIPA customers were still without power, nearly a month after the storm. The loss of power created a crisis larger and deeper than was truly necessary, and caused a panic that affected everything from gas prices to the availability of food. Temperatures dropped and a snow storm hit, creating an even bleaker situation for tens of thousands who were still in the dark.

One of the most shocking and egregious aspects of Hurricane Katrina was how quickly government abandoned their constituents. Elected officials tasked with the responsibility of leadership, who were supposed to serve and meet the needs of their citizens, were the first ones to leave New Orleans and the last ones to return. I promised myself I would never let that happen if a major storm were to hit my district.

Two days after the storm, my Far Rockaway office was open. At first it was a makeshift operation. Having no power to function as a modern office, we started with a table, a note pad and a pen. Gradually, we morphed into an operation that took in and distributed supplies like food, clothing, batteries, flashlights, toiletries and other necessities. We went on TV and urged LIPA, FEMA, the Red Cross and the National Guard to expedite their operations in the Far Rockaway area of the peninsula, an area where their presence was lacking until just a week ago.

I’m proud to say that my office had a hand in serving, directly or indirectly, approximately 10,000 families in Far Rockaway. We were aided by the good will of Americans from every corner of our country that sent supplies, food, clothing and money.

There are many lessons we need to take away from Sandy. Never again can we allow a natural disaster to be deepened and prolonged by a lack of readiness on the ground. Never again can we allow our utilities tasked with keeping the lights on to essentially cease to function. When the lights went out, worry set in, leading to fear and eventually, to all out panic in a devastating cascade that made the aftermath of this storm worse than the event itself.

There is no doubt we are living in a new age, where major storms will be both more common and more severe. The litany of ways in which our society needs to advance if we are to see ourselves through this era would drag on far longer than the length of this column. Suffice it to say, we need to adapt to this new reality with better planning, better organization and more precision. We need to update and modernize our infrastructure and our power grids. We need a better plan for servicing those in hard-to-reach areas, and for shuttling people to safety. We need to take seriously the ever-growing threat of a changing environment and a modern world.

Sandy was a devastating storm, but it had ripple effects that were preventable if our society had been better prepared. We need to say no to man-made crises.

Lawsuit against LIPA to be filed Tuesday


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A class action lawsuit against the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and National Grid, which manages LIPA’s grid, is expected to be filed Tuesday, claiming breach of contract, gross negligence and fraud for the utility’s response to Sandy-related outages, according to multiple reports.

Two Nassau county customers have already joined the lawsuit, reported CBS New York.

“We’re bringing a class action because I believe somewhere between 750,000 and 1 million people have been one way or another damaged by the ineptitude of this organization,” attorney Ken Mollins told CBS.

Critics say LIPA, which serve customers in Long Island as well as Queens, has responded slowly to the thousands that lost power due to Superstorm Sandy.

As of Tuesday, 14,000 LIPA customers outside of flood areas and 39,000 within, including 26,600 in the Rockaway Peninsula, are still without power.

Customers are not the only ones mad at local utility companies.

On Monday, Governor Cuomo said he wanted to launch an investigation of them, and that he believes they were “unprepared “ and “non-communicative” in their response to the storm.

In a speech this morning to the Association for a Better New York, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said that “we need to strengthen our energy structure.”

Along with improving protocol, erecting structures around power plants and substations, and upgrading infrastructure, Quinn suggested that in neighborhoods prone to heavy winds, overhead power lines should be buried underground.

Con Ed restores power to those without damaged equipment; thousands in Howard Beach, Broad Channel remain without lights


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

Two weeks after Sandy knocked out electricity to more than 100,000 Queens residents, Con Edison announced power was restored to all customers whose equipment was not damaged during the storm.

Several thousand residents in Howard Beach and Broad Channel will remain without power until their equipment is deemed safe, Con Ed said.

The last Sandy outages throughout the rest of the borough were finally restored last night, Con Ed said in a release.

“We want to restore customers as much as they want the electricity back, but we will not restore customers unless it is safe to do so,” said a Con Ed spokesperson.

There are several steps residents in those areas must follow before their lights can be turned back on, Con Ed said.

Residents’ equipment must be inspected, cleaned and repaired by a licensed contractor; the contractor must then complete a self-certification form and email (hurricanesandybrooklynqueens@coned.com) or fax (718-802-6349) the form to Con Ed.

Tens of thousands of Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) customers in the Rockaways also remain without electricity.

More than 100,000 remain without power in Queens


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

More than 105,000 Queens residents remain without power as Con Edison crews continue clean up and restoration efforts.

More than three times the number of residents lost power during the storm in New York City than during Hurricane Irene last year.

“This is the largest storm-related outage in our history,” said Con Edison Senior Vice President for Electric Operations John Miksad.

Con Ed crews are currently out assessing damage and attempting to restore power.

Customers served by overhead power lines may need to wait at least a week before their electricity is restored. More than 5,000 wires fell during the storm.

“Its going to take a lot of patience,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Crews from as far away as California will aid in Con Ed in restoring power to nearly 750,000 residents still in the dark.

You can also see where current outages are here.

 

 

Morning Roundup: Hurricane edition


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Google Maps

NYC HURRICANE FORECAST 

National Weather Service:

Hazardous Weather Outlook

High Wind Warning

Coastal Flood Warning

Flood Watch 

Monday: Rain. The rain could be heavy at times. High near 61. Very windy, with a northeast wind 36 to 45 mph, with gusts as high as 65 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible. Monday night: rain. The rain could be heavy at times. Low around 54. Very windy, with a northeast wind 38 to 43 mph becoming southeast 32 to 37 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 75 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New precipitation amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.

Tuesday:  Showers likely. Cloudy, with a high near 61. Windy, with a south wind around 29 mph, with gusts as high as 48 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible. Tuesday night Showers likely. Cloudy, with a low around 49. South wind 15 to 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Hurricane Sandy updates

Check out the latest news on Hurricane Sandy. Read more: Queens Courier

Many Rockaway residents ignore evacuation, remain home

Despite calls from elected officials in the area, many Rockaway residents say they’re staying, and have hunkered down for the impacts of Hurricane Sandy. Read more: Queens Courier

Con Ed prepping for storm, potential power outages

The high winds and heavy rains expected with Hurricane Sandy may knock out power in areas of the city.  In preparation for the storm, Con Edison has thousands of employees working around the clock to respond to any problems with electric, gas, and steam systems. Read more: Queens Courier

Bracing for storm, U.S. stock markets to close

All United States stock and options markets will close on Monday as Hurricane Sandy approaches, as Wall Street braces for the storm to barrel through the heart of the country’s financial center. Read more: New York Times

Obama cancels Florida campaign trip, returns to DC

President Barack Obama is canceling a planned campaign appearance in Florida and returning to Washington to oversee the federal government’s response to the ever-threatening Hurricane Sandy. Read more: AP

Some see opportunity in storm, no transit

New Yorkers who rely on the subway to get around are out of luck today. Read more: Fox 5 New York

 

 

Con Ed prepping for storm, potential power outages


| brennison@queenscourier.com

The high winds and heavy rains expected with Hurricane Sandy may knock out power in areas of the city.  In preparation for the storm, Con Edison has thousands of employees working around the clock to respond to any problems with electric, gas, and steam systems.

” The company has secured over 700 external contractors, including line workers, tree crews and damage assessors, to assist with storm restoration,” Con Ed said in a press release.

Downed trees and power lines remains a high possibility with sustained winds at 50 mph with gusts at 80 mph forecasted with the storm.

Underground electrical equipment may need to be shut down if low-lying areas begin to flood, the company said.  This allows the equipment to avoid extensive damage and allows crews to restore power more quickly.

Customers can report downed power lines, outages at www.conEd.com or by calling 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633).

 

 

Small businesses cashing in with Con Ed energy efficiency programs


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Small businesses throughout New York City and Westchester County are taking advantage of a Con Edison energy-efficiency program to save money and preserve the environment.

The program focuses on assisting small businesses by providing them with incentives of up to 70 percent for the cost of upgrading major heating, cooling and lighting systems.

Con Edison will provide small businesses with free energy surveys and free energy conservation measures, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs and water heater thermostats. To qualify, small businesses need to have an average monthly peak demand of less than 100 kilowatts.

The utility highlighted its small business programs at a press conference recently at The New Shanghai Tan Restaurant in Flushing. That business had Con Edison conduct an energy survey that showed it could save $1,500 a year by investing $534 in energy-efficient lighting.

“I encourage every business in our community, both large and small, to take a look at Con Edison’s programs,” said Peter Tu, executive director of the Flushing Chinese Business Association. “This should be of particular importance to us here in Flushing because our business community is growing so rapidly.”

“Our energy-efficiency programs save small businesses money that they can use for investments like new equipment, hiring employees or marketing,” said Esteban Vasquez, a manager in Energy Efficiency and Demand Management for Con Edison. “Businesses that save energy gain a competitive edge and protect the environment.”

Con Edison has conducted energy surveys for 5,600 small businesses this year. And 3,000 of those small businesses have made energy upgrades, saving an estimated 38,000,000 kilowatt hours of usage.

Con Edison’s energy efficiency programs for businesses and homeowners can be found at www.coned.com/greenteam. Customers can also call the company’s Green Team at 1-877-870-6118.

Rockaway preps for Hurricane Sandy


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Rockaway residents are siding with caution and getting the necessities to weather out threats from Hurricane Sandy.

In order to prevent flooding, sand walls are currently being assembled at certain spots along the beaches. Con Edison announced it will also have extra crews available to deal with anticipated power outages.

Many people living near the beach have been heading to stores for supplies to prevent damage or flooding in their homes. Noni Signoretti, the co-owner of a Beach 116th Street hardware store, said the shop had sold out of sandbags and were selling a high number of tape and batteries.

UPDATE:

The city is not planning to evacuate any areas at this time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the public at a 6 p.m. briefing. Bloomberg recommended city residents living within flood zones should move to homes of friends and families, or at an evacuation center. The city is not expected to shut down on Monday, Bloomberg said, and all city employees are expected to be in work. Mass transit schedules will run on schedule tomorrow, he said. All events in city parks scheduled for after 2 p.m. have been canceled, he said, and parks will be closed after 5 p.m.

The mayor also advised surfers stay out of the water — despite temptations from high waves that are expected as the Hurricane nears the city. 

“Please, the beaches are dangerous and surfing is extremely dangerous,” Bloomberg said. “You may want to run the risk, but we have to send our emergency workers into the ocean to save you. Their lives are at risk, [and] you just don’t have a right to do that to anyone else.

City agencies prepping for “Frankenstorm”


| brennison@queenscourier.com

With Hurricane Sandy barreling toward the city, city agencies are preparing for the possible massive storm.

The heavy rain and strong winds can cause unsafe conditions throughout the public transportation system and on the city’s bridges and tunnels.  No decision has been made yet as to whether there will be any service stoppages during the storm.

“We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota. “Whatever happens, we’ll be ready.

They MTA last suspended operation during Hurricane Irene. The MTA’s hurricane plan calls for “an orderly shutdown of service before the arrival of sustained winds of 39 mph or higher.  Sustained winds are forecasted to be between 40-50 mph.

Those high winds and rain falling at 1-2 inches per hour may also knock out power.

“This is a large unpredictable storm, so be prepared for outages,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Con Edison has crews prepping for the conditions that could effect the city’s electric, gas and steam systems.

Customers can report downed power lines and outages at www.conEd.com. They also can call 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633).

In the event the hurricane hits our area, Con Edison offered the following safety tips:

  •  If you see downed electrical wires, do not go near them. Treat all downed wires as if they are live. Never attempt to move or touch them with any object. Be mindful that downed wires can be hidden from view by tree limbs, leaves or water.
  • Report all downed wires to Con Edison and your local police department immediately. If a power line falls on your car while you’re in it, stay inside the vehicle and wait for emergency personnel.
  • If your power goes out, turn off all lights and appliances to prevent overloaded circuits when power is restored.
  • Check to make sure your flashlights and any battery-operated radios are working. Also, make sure you have a supply of extra batteries. Weather updates and news on power outages can be heard on most local radio and television stations.
  • Avoid opening your freezer to see if food is still frozen. Every time you open the door, room-temperature air enters and speeds the thawing process. Most fully loaded freezers will keep food frozen for approximately 36 to 48 hours; half-full freezers will keep food frozen for approximately 24 hours.

Power outages throughout Queens


| brennison@queenscourier.com

mini-blackout7w

Severe storms striking the area have knocked out power to hundreds of customers in Queens.

Heavy rains and strong winds are expected to pound the area throughout the night.  Downed trees and limbs place power lines at risk.

Approximately 200 borough residents still find themselves without power. Earlier this evening nearly 1,500 were without electricity in Queens.

Con Ed is responding to the outages.  To report power loss call 800-75CONED.

The company also issued some safety tips in the event you see a downed power line:

  • If you see downed electrical wires, do not go near them. Treat all downed wires as if they are live. Never attempt to move them or touch them with your hands or any object. Be mindful that downed wires can be hidden from view by tree limbs, leaves or water.
  • Report all downed wires to Con Edison and your local police department immediately. If a power line falls on your car while you’re in it, stay inside the vehicle and wait for emergency personnel.
  • If your power goes out, disconnect or turn off appliances that would otherwise turn on automatically when service is restored. If several appliances start up at once, the electric circuits may overload.
  • Check to make sure your flashlights and any battery-operated radios are in working order. Make sure you have a supply of extra batteries.
  • Weather updates and news on restorations of electrical service can be heard on most local radio and television stations.

Three weeks in, health insurance reinstated for Con Ed workers


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Three weeks after contract negotiations began between Con Ed and representatives from the Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2, the utility giant reinstated health coverage for its 8,500 locked out workers.

Local 1-2 spokesperson John Melia claimed the company’s decision to cut off health insurance at the start of the lockout was illegal.

“They broke the law, we caught them at it and they put insurance back in place,” said Melia. “They knew they broke the law. They knew they were in the wrong.”

According to Melia, Con Ed cost state unemployment assistance agencies millions of dollars after refusing to pay for workers’ benefits, forcing them to look elsewhere for help. Melia added that since the company is self-insured, revoking benefits was a “double crime against the 8,500 New York families” affected during the lockout.

“They don’t care about their customers and they don’t care about their workers,” said Melia. “How are they getting away with charging the people of New York to throw workers on the street?”

According to a Con Ed spokesperson, employees who worked after midnight on June 30 — the day the contract ran out –- continued to receive health care through the month of July. Those who did not work past the first of the month were released from their company-offered insurance and instead presented with the option of purchasing benefits through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) — a Department of Labor-sponsored program that provides dismissed or laid-off workers and their families benefits. The representative said only a very small number of workers retained coverage in the interim.

On July 15, Con Ed officials notified union leadership after deciding to reinstate coverage for all locked out workers through July. Medical costs incurred during the course of the lockout will also be covered. The official did not say why Con Ed executives came to this conclusion.

Neither side could say whether or not talks had progressed any further.