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Many buildings in Midtown and Lower Manhattan that had their electricity restored still have no heat and hot water, because they don't have steam. Con Edison is the company with the most experience in buried power delivery. Shouldn't we be entitled to expect they would have enough experience to have a plan for a major storm? Even a hundred year storm? They've been at it for more than a hundred years.

Con Ed is urging customers to conserve energy, and if the storm damaged equipment is inside your building, you're on your own.

(more below the fold)

Con Edison not reporting customers – tells customers to DIY

While more than 90 percent of the nearly 1 million customers affected by Sandy have been restored, the company continued efforts to restore the approximately 70,000 customers whose equipment can be safely re-energized. In addition, the company is working with the New York City Buildings Department to expedite the restoration of about 20,000 customers in Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens whose own electrical equipment was damaged by flooding and cannot be safely re-energized without repairs and an inspection by an electrician.

Customers requiring inside-the-premises electrical work are not listed on the Con Edison Outage Map or included in the total number of outages reported by the company. Con Edison and the New York City Buildings Department are collaborating to guide customers through the process of repairing their own equipment. For information, click here:

The number of customers, sounds like a simple number, but it’s not what you think it means. We hear those words and think it counts everyone who gets a monthly bill from Con Ed.

Not so.

We are dealing with newspeak here.

A customer in a place like New York could be a residential high-rise, or a commercial complex, or an organization with multiple sites.  So when you hear that 1 customer lost power, is that a single home? A single business? A single police station?

Or is it 300 apartments (1 building, 1 customer), 20 businesses (1 building, 1 customer), 59 apartment complexes (New York City Housing, 1 customer), and so on.

A lot of calls have been made for buried power lines. Yes, in some places, that will be a needed and valuable investment. But buried technology is not a simple solution, where one size fits all.

Con Edison is the company with the most experience in buried power delivery. They've been at it for more than a hundred years. Shouldn't we be entitled to expect they would have enough experience to have a plan for a major storm?

A brief history of Con Edison bringing steam power to New York City

Con Edison has 3 steam generating plants in Manhattan, 1 in Queens, and 1 in Brooklyn

Steam explosion NYC, 2007

Steam Blast Jolts Midtown, Killing One

And then there was the massive power failure in 2004 when a power line in Ohio overheated and failed, sending a power surge back the line through Canada all the way to New York.  Essentially surge protectors failed at many places. Did we ever find out why the utility company with the most experience didn't have better equipment?

New York had a transit strike a few years ago and Mayor Bloomberg made a big deal about it costing the city a BILLION dollars a day in lost economic activity.  And that was when most people could still get to work. Why aren't these private power companies held to account when their failures to have a plan, and their failures to upgrade equipment leave us without essential services?

Now it's not just lost economic activity. It's winter for Fxxks sake! Lives are on the line because they spent years maximizing profits.

Many buildings in Midtown and Lower Manhattan that had their electricity restored still have no steam - steam that is used for heat and hot water.

Con Edison urges these customers to conserve energy by not doing the laundry.

Con Edison continues to urge customers in Mid- and Lower Manhattan who were affected by Hurricane Sandy outages to conserve energy as much as possible while crews work to reinforce the underground electric system. Customers can help by refraining from using non-essential appliances such as washers and dryers. Con Edison is in contact with building owners to encourage limiting use of certain elevator banks or other electrical equipment.
Meanwhile out in the Rockaways they have returned to ancient technology and are burning fires in the streets at night.
From NY1 political blogger, Bob Hardt, Wednesday 11/7/12, 2 p.m.
This is a gut-wrenching short video made by filmmakers Alex Braverman and Poppy de Villeneuve. I’m not sure I’d follow their advice and give a single penny to the Red Cross but it’s definitely worth watching.

Perhaps not tonight, since it's snowing, and the wind is howling. But will someone desperate bring their generator in doors, or try to heat their home using a gas stove? We have a humanitarian crisis in play, and it's far from over.

Rockaway Needs Us - LIPA Lies to NY1 about customers without power (hat tip to NY1 and Bob Hardt)

As we cope through this Noreaster and help our community to recover, let's include our neighbors in the Dakotas, who have far too much experience surviving without heat in the winter.
We Won - With NDN Votes. Time to Help Save NDN Lives by Aji

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Comment Preferences

  •  Rarely does a company live up to their name (8+ / 0-)

    Con Ed is really just missing an 'n' to make it official. :P

    Attention rich bastards, this is real important,
    I thought you might want to know
    That $5,000 suits don't hide your 5¢ souls.

    by ontheleftcoast on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 05:32:17 PM PST

  •  This: (10+ / 0-)
    But will someone desperate bring their generator in doors, or try to heat their home using a gas stove?
    Particularly the latter.  It happens in poor areas all over the country (I remember deaths in NYC when I lived there, every single year, from that very cause).  When people are desperate, they'll try whatever's available, particularly if they have small children.  Time for Bloomberg to apply some pressure and get them to step it up.

    Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

    by Aji on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 05:50:03 PM PST

  •  I am shocked at the incompetence (6+ / 0-)

    the infrastructure is overtaxed

    I believe this sort of thing will become the new normal

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 06:00:33 PM PST

  •  Hum.... the system was flooded. It cannot be (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, kpardue

    fixed over night.  It will not be fixed over night.

    When Cedar Rapids flooded in June of 2008, the majority of the steam system was flooded out as well.  The plant that generated that steam was also flooded.  A backup system was brought in to help and that took weeks to get going.  Then the customers of that steam were presented with absolutely huge bills.  The flooded plant came back on line in April, IIRC, of 2009.  By then, many of the customers paid huge sums of money to get converted to other sources of heat and electric power.

    Yes, it sucks that there are still people without power and heat.  It's going to take time.

    •  This diary is about inaccurate reporting (8+ / 0-)

      not about fixing stuff overnight.

      This scandal is not about the difficulty of fixing broken stuff.

      If you have damaged utility equipment inside your home or business Con Ed, LIPA, and PG&E are NOT COUNTING YOU. They are not counting you as their customer.

      There is already a delay in the most basic utility service - even if nothing is broken. Con Ed has on their website, if you request new utility hook up, your need is going to be delayed because of relief work.

      People who live in Manhattan, and still have no heat and hot water, because that is steam powered, can not simply go out and convert to something else. They can't put solar on their roof.

      They have only one option, an electric space heater, or what some poor people might do is use their gas stove, which puts not only their own lives at risk, but also all of their neighbors bear increased risk of fire.  

      There are a lot more people at risk of preventable death than many people realize. This is far from over.

      •  I totally get your frustration and what everyone (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catesby, LilithGardener, eyesoars

        is going through.

        It would be nice if companies were altruistic, but they're not.  Would NYC have done any better in this disaster?  No, they wouldn't have.  They have their own agenda and infrastructure isn't the highest on the list.  If the City were in charge of the utilities, they still would not do anything about equipment within private property.  That's not their business.  They can help facilitate some things, but private property is private property and up to the owners to maintain and prepare for adverse incidents.  The best that the City can do is provide shelters for people to evacuate to for warmth.

        So, what are you suggesting that Con Ed do??  Try to run steam in a damaged system that could very well explode on the attempt and make things take even longer to repair??  Will counting the buildings that are no longer standing make the power come back on any quicker??  Will counting individual apartments that without power make any of the buildings get power faster??  Will having Con Ed pay for the repairs in private property make things all better??  The slum lords are the ones you need to be bitching at first, for they are the ones that have deferred maintenance and planning for their buildings.

        Nearly 4.5 years after a record setting crest in downtown CR, the second largest city in the state, things are still far from 'normal' in many areas.  We were fortunate we had 4.5 months to get the worst of the damage (heating and electric in buildings that were deemed habitable in and out of the flood zone) repaired by the October when the freezing temps start around here.

        •  You seemed to have missed the point (0+ / 0-)

          My frustration is not the issue. It's not my expectations you need to manage or educate.

          It's not the utility company's fault that equipment got damaged inside homes and businesses.  It's not their responsibility.

          Failures like the ones that occurred at NYU/Langone medical center are NYU/Langone's responsibility.  NYU has it's own power generation, so they know all about what they need to do.

          What's wrong here is the reporting about the number of people affected.  The public hears customers and thinks customers = households and businesses, when it doesn't.  The city reports number of customers, citing the utility numbers.

          But customers can't assess their home or business without being attached to the grid, and they can't take the next steps until they know if the problem lies within their building.

          Con Ed's website advises people who have power in Midtown and Lower Manhattan to conserve energy by not using unnecessary appliances, specifically citing laundry appliances. That's not about a broken grid, but about inadequate capacity.

          Can't you get that there's a problem with the whole business model?

          PS - please spare us your snide comments re slumlords and obvious lack of investment in infrastructure.  NYC is about a lot more than slums. The problem is a lot bigger than rich v poor and deferred capital maintenance.

          •  Are you suggesting that Con Ed just go ahead and (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            hook any building up to their grid??  Regardless of soundness of the buildings electrical system??  It's very risky to do so, as it could cause a surge/backlash somewhere along the line and therefore more issues.

            The problem isn't necessarily capacity.  Well, it is in a way, because the load balancing of the existing lines and not knowing where all the broken lines are at and whether they're live or not is tricky to do.  (A neighbor of mine and a close friend of mine works for the local power company and they've told stories after the ice and wind storms that have gone through here.)  If you don't balance the loads, you can end up blowing transformers and substations.  You can't have all your transformers handle 'full' capacity, mainly because it's inefficient (and cost way too much).  The size of the copper also can't handle that much electricity, they'll start to melt and short out.  That's why there are substations and transformers in all sorts of places.

            The only way to deal with the capacity in the sense you're talking about is to have each building have its own power generator source and that's not going to happen any time soon.

            I wasn't trying to be snide about absentee landlords.  CR got a real eye opener after the floods.  For many of the 6000+ homes that flooded were owned by absentee landlords that didn't give a rats ass about what happened to the people that were renting the property.  They just wanted their money, thankyouverymuch, and I know CR isn't alone in having people like that owning properties.

            How do you suggest changing the business model??  Telling exactly how many individual bodies are without electricity isn't going to change anything for anyone.

            •  Your assumptions - have you challenged (0+ / 0-)

              your own assumptions?

              Telling exactly how many individual bodies are without electricity isn't going to change anything for anyone.
              We have a humanitarian crisis unfolding here, and you think it doesn't matter how many people might do something stupid to stay alive, born of desperation.

              I may be completely prepared and have functional utilities. If my neighbor doesn't and is using candles for lighting, the whole building or the whole block is at higher risk of a catastrophic fire.

              If someone has their gas stove on to try to keep their kids warm, not only are they at risk of dying a preventable death, but we neighbors are at higher risk of an explosion.

            •  You were referring to CR slumlords? (0+ / 0-)
              For many of the 6000+ homes that flooded were owned by absentee landlords that didn't give a rats ass about what happened to the people that were renting the property.
              That's not what you wrote. You projected your experience onto NYC in a way that sounded like a cliche.

              I'll accept your assertion that you aren't trying to be snide or obtuse, but it is coming across that way to me.

            •  Believe it or not - some of us city slickers (0+ / 0-)

              do know how electricity works, and do know how the power grid works, and do know how power surges happen, and all of that. We learn a lot about power outtages, since they happen here every summer.  

              I'll value the part of your comments that help others to learn the things you and I both already know, and try to ignore your questions that come across as condescending.

              There seems to be a disconnect in how you read the diary and my comments.

              I don't have an answer to the problem. I'm trying to help people understand that the problem is much bigger than people realize. And to help them realize it's not just a simple matter of burying the power lines so trees don't fall on them.

      •  This is how it goes (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nchristine, LilithGardener

        it is why it is called a disaster.

        If you think this is bad, you should try having lived through Andrew.

        Having to live with an electrical space heater?  Or an oven? Ohmilawd.

        •  It's not the inconvenience - it's that some people (0+ / 0-)

          will rely on their gas oven to heat the house or apartment, especially if they have kids.

          It's a real hazard for carbon monoxide poisoning and creates increased fire hazard for your neighbors. NJ was smart when they shut off the natural gas to that one barrier island.  They dealt with more than 1000 leaks and fires, as they tried to go house to house and shut people off at the meter, but new fires kept igniting, so they had to just turn off the whole delivery grid.

          So even if your house was fine, no cooking or natural gas heating for you. I hope people learn from this how vulnerable we all are to the needs of our neighbors.

    •  Thanks for the heads up about getting a bill (0+ / 0-)


      A backup system was brought in to help and that took weeks to get going.  Then the customers of that steam were presented with absolutely huge bills.
      Anyone who might get a bill later is still their customer right now, and should be counted.
  •  I hope everyone is ok and not too cold... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, sockpuppet

    ..if there are families with children that are freezing aren't there shelters available?

    One thing I will say, and I lived through Katrina, is that they seem to be at least trying. I'm not sure of the legalities of them working on private equipment like noted above but I'm sure there are liability issues.

    "Good to be here, good to be anywhere." --Keith Richards

    by bradreiman on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 06:19:31 PM PST

    •  the shelters have been described as in deplorable (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sockpuppet, LilithGardener

      condition and that was days ago

      View more videos at:

      "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

      by eXtina on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 06:32:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The highschool near me housed about 1000 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        betson08, eXtina

        people and they all had to move over the weekend because the school had to reopen Monday.

        They emergency shelter plan had a capacity to handle 70,000 people, for a few days.  Fewer than 8,000 people evacuated initially.  It appears there was no plan for 40,000 people to be displaced for months or permanently.

    •  more on shelters (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sockpuppet, LilithGardener

      View more videos at:

      "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

      by eXtina on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 06:34:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, I will say the city had a pretty good (4+ / 0-)

      emergency plan, especially re shutting down mass transit well in advance.  They faced a lot of flack about that last year, and again this year, before the storm.

      It's a triump that although more than a million people lived in mandatory evacuation zones in NY, NJ, CT only about a hundred people died as a direct result of the storm.

      What they lacked was a recovery plan. Most of the plans they had relied on other infrastructure and support agencies being operational.

    •  I hear you - it seems that the utility is only (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, Cassandra Waites, Catesby, pgm 01

      responsible to bring the power to the property. The property owner, building owner, business owner is responsible from there.

      But there are plenty of home owners, and business owners, who can't assess if equipment in their property is working because their is no power to their whole block.

      •  Same as it is in the rest of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the country.

        •  And now we city slickers are learning (0+ / 0-)

          a bit about how power in NYC happens. Or Not.

          Glad you made it through Andrew, and was impressed with how the folks in the Keys dealt with Isaac this year.  They seemed prepared having learned from their prior hurricanes.

      •  Same thing is happening here in Connecticut (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Because the flooding and winds in Hurricane Sandy that submerged furnaces, dampened electrical panels and pulled out wires could pose safety risks when power returns, Old Lyme officials have told more than 200 homeowners they can't restore electricity to their houses until they are inspected by a licensed electrician.

        First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder said the town can't risk restoring power to damaged houses until it ensures their electrical systems are sound. The safety risks include fire and electrocution, she said.

        Electrician Roger Dill of Dill's Electric in Lyme who was at Town Hall Monday submitting certification for a client, said he has seen fires start after seawater flooding.

        "Salt water is a superconductor," he said.

        The luxury condominium complex at Randall's Wharf off Water Street in Mystic, was still without power on Monday due to meters that were partially submerged during the storm surge, said Kevin Quinn, Groton's manager of inspection services. Quinn said new breakers were installed and he inspected the work Monday morning, a requirement before Connecticut Light & Power would reconnect power.
        200 Old Lyme homeowners told houses uninhabitable
        If you were submerged, you have to have a licensed inspection done of your electrical system.  Also, while the local power company will string up downed wires, if the wires were ripped off of your house, you need to pay a licensed electrician to reattach the wires to your house, the power company will not do that.
        •  Great addition to the education we are all (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pgm 01


          "Salt water is a superconductor," he said.
          We saw that vividly when the East River flooded. The Con Ed station just exploded.

          We have no idea how many houses and businesses and apartment buidlings are uninhabitable because they lack power, or are uninhabitable because they have structural damage.

          Are you telling me that even if someone's home was spared by Sandy, and their neighborhood block is still out, they could face burst water pipes because they don't have any way to keep a little heat in the house.

          •  They need to either turn off the water and empty (0+ / 0-)

            the internal pipes for the night, or turn the faucets on to a little more than a trickle and flush the toilets every 90 minutes or so.  It gets cold enough around here that even having heat isn't a guaratee of not having frozen pipes somewhere in the house.  I had one of my pipes freeze this past winter and my house is 13 years old with pleanty of heat.

            •  And if they evacuated before Sandy (0+ / 0-)

              and haven't been able to return yet, at all, what should they learn?

              Winter came late this year. Prior to Sandy there were still plenty of green leaves on the trees, and here in NYC temperatures dropped below freezing for the first time this week.

              We know all about 4 seasons up here. This is like we skipped fall.

              What we've never had before - ANYWHERE - in this country is a tropical cyclone followed by a noreaster a week later delivering a couple inches of snow.

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