De Blasio hammers Con Ed after Brooklyn blackout, demands public agency replace the private utility
Mayor de Blasio blasted Con Ed after thousands more New Yorkers lost power Sunday night, suggesting a public entity might be better equipped to provide electricity than the 135-year-old utility company.
“If Con Ed cannot answer us — why these things are happening and what they’re going to do differently to stop them — then why are we depending on a private company for something so vital?” de Blasio said at a hastily scheduled press conference in Mill Basin, Brooklyn, on Monday morning.
“We don’t depend on a private company for water or for policing or for fire protection,” he added. “If they can’t handle the job, it’s time to look at new alternatives.”
De Blasio called for a full investigation after more than 50,000 Con Ed customers were in the dark on Sunday when temperatures hit the mid-90s during a scorching heat wave.
The mayor said he no longer “trusts” Con Ed after their handling of the outage and other recent blackouts.
“We have to question whether Con Ed as its structured now can do the job going forward or whether we need to go to an entirely different approach,” the mayor said.
“Con Ed is a private company that is heavily regulated, but they’re still a private company, they’re not accountable to the public in the way a public agency would be,” he added.
To prevent the spread of Sunday’s outage, the utility deliberately cut power to 33,000 customers in Brooklyn, mostly in in Canarsie, Flatlands, Mill Basin and Bergen Beach.
De Blasio questioned why Con Ed could cut the power without the input of city or state agencies.
“We have no ability to control Con Ed and that’s not right,” he said. “The state regulates Con Ed, but even in that instance, Con Ed made this decision unilaterally.”
The city scrambled to send first responders to those neighborhoods, with half of traffic lights taken out. The NYPD deployed 200 additional officers — and so did the State Police.
“There were real safety and security issues,” de Blasio said, welcoming the help from the state.
There were still 14,000 customers in Brooklyn who were taken out of service for repairs as of Monday morning.
Sunday’s blackout follows a week of sporadic outages across the five boroughs — and a massive power outage that plunged swaths of Midtown and Manhattan’s west side into darkness.
“I have asked Con Ed repeatedly to tell us what happened, why it happened and how they are taking steps to make sure it won’t happen again — they have not given me a good answer,” de Blasio said of massive Manhattan outage.
Con Ed didn’t immediately return a request for comment on de Blasio’s tirade.
The Consolidated Gas Company — later renamed as electricity became more popular –was formed in 1884 when several gas suppliers decided to merge to stay competitive.
Still one of the country’s largest utilities, Con Ed provides electricity, gas and steam service for 10 million people in New York City and Westchester County.
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