Putting The 'Con' In Con Edison
Astoria and Western Queens are slowly emerging from a hellish nightmare. We have stepped out of the Dark Ages. But of course Con Edison still remains outside the age of reason. Just like Baghdad Bob, they continue their laughable public misinformation campaign by trying to grossly minimize the extent of the damage they caused. First, they insisted that it was a minor problem with only a few hundred "customers" without power, then they raised that number to 1,800 and finally five days into the crisis they admit that 25,000 are without power.
Yet as always with Con Ed the truth is a little bit below the surface. They define "customers" as meters and not individuals. However, a single customer could be a large building with hundreds of people. Additionally, these numbers only refer to people with zero power, not people with drastically reduced voltage. The real number of people that were affected by this was over 200,000.
On Tuesday night I stood and watched electric power lines burn and fall to the ground. The fact that this was caused by two hot days in the summer is outrageous. I'm frightened to see what will happen in the hot summer days of August. Con Ed has assured us that they will be conducting their own investigation into this calamity. If this isn't a case of the fox watching the henhouse I don't know what is. That is why I along with Assembly Member Michael Gianaris and Council Member Eric Gioia have called for an investigation by District Attorney Richard Brown and will be conducting hearings at the City Council and the Assembly. Hopefully the "Con" in Con Edison will take on a new meaning.
Additionally, I am working with Congressman Joseph Crowley to get a federal monitor placed over Con Ed. The next few months will be crucial to rebuild our fragile network and ensure that this doesn't happen again. I think we have all learned we can't trust this irresponsible corporate neighbor, which provides us with stray voltage in the winter and no voltage in the summer, to do the right thing.
I am also demanding that Con Ed, like every other major utility provider, use technology that can show where service is down. It is embarrassing that in the 21st Century our utility provider must ride through the streets like a modern day Paul Revere looking for lights to see if power has returned.
While 10 days without power for any neighborhood is unacceptable, in Astoria it provides additional irony. The power plants in this area produce over sixty percent of the City's energy. As a result, Western Queens has among the highest asthma rates in the State. Yet we are the first ones knocked out and the last ones restored.
Oh, and one last thing, thank you Kevin Burke for proving beyond a reasonable doubt how inept Con Ed really is which will hopefully lead to long overdue reforms.
Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., is Chair of the Public Safety Committee.