Transformer Fire Causes Power Outages
Numbers of Astoria and Long Island City homes and businesses experienced temporary power losses Monday night as an internal electrical problem associated with the Unit 5 transformer resulted in a transformer fire that led to outages of Units 2, 3, 4 and 5 at the Reliant Energy Astoria generating station at 18-01 20th Ave.
Spokespersons for Reliant said that the New York City Fire Department responded immediately and that the transformer fire was completely contained and controlled. "The priority of the Reliant operating personnel after the fire was contained was to restore electric generating capacity to supply electricity to the city of New York on a day when weather conditions were expected to result in peak demands," Reliant spokespersons said. They advised that as of 9:30 a.m. Tuesday capacity associated with two of the four units had been restored and the units themselves were in "start-up" mode. "Work is continuing to restore needed electric generating capacity in all four units prior to the peak period of demand later [that] afternoon. The goal is to reach full operating capacity in three of the four units, 2. 3 and 4." They added that Unit 5, which experienced the transformer failure, would operate at reduced capacity when restored.
"This is now the second apparent maintenance failure in two weeks—the first was at Consolidated Edison, and we still don't know the reason for that," City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) commented. "As a member of the council environmental committee, I will be calling for an oversight hearing to ensure that this does not happen again."
Reliant plant personnel, including the plant manager and environmental safety manager had been working through Monday night, when established contingency plans and notifications were activated, into Tuesday morning to oversee the restoration of power and responses as required. Reliant Energy remains in close technical coordination with Con Edison, the system operator responsible for distribution and delivery of electricity to its customers, the New York Independent System Operators and the New York State Public Service Commission. Reliant expressed appreciation for onsite support and coordination of the city Office of Emergency Management, the Department of Environmental Protection and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Vallone said he was assured at the time of the Con Edison fire that the blaze had nothing to do with power supplies. "I am not against newer, cleaner power plants," he said. "However, they must be tied to a program of retiring or repowering the older, existing plants, and they must be sited fairly. This neighborhood already supplies close to 60 percent of the power for the entire city. Western Queens will not stand for any additional power plants."