The Office of Emergency Management has decided to stop relying on Con Ed-supplied information on power outages, after the July Queens blackout mess that affected about 300,000. OEM Commissioner Joseph Bruno said that the fact that Con Ed said only 1700 customers were without power on July 20, later raising it to 25,000 customers (and customers equal entire buildings, with indeterminate number of people in them), was cause for the city to start sending canvassers on the street to get better estimates. The "Power Outage Response Team" will be made up of NYPD, FDNY, and other city officials. Comissioner Bruno said, "We have never seen Con Ed be off by a factor of 10, as we’ve seen here... We are no longer accepting those [Con Ed] numbers as we had for years."
While Commissioner Bruno didn't come out and say Con Ed was lying, the implication is pretty clear: You can't trust Con Ed. This is a far cry from Mayor Bloomberg saying to Queens that Con Ed CEO Kevin Burke needed a thank you. Anyway, City Councilman Peter Vallone was a little more forceful during a hearing: "[Con Ed is] either pathetically incompetent and need to resign or criminally negligent and need to go jail. That is inexcusable, that they're misleading, in fact -- lying to the commissioner responsible for responding to an emergency." As was Councilman Eric Gioia: "[Con Ed has a] pretty clear history of deceit. One of my great frustrations was what I was seeing with my own eyes was not the information you were getting."
We hope the city has figured out a way for canvassers to get an accurate picture efficiently - Commissioner Bruno did say his nightmare would be people stranded in subways. And be sure to check out the full page ad that Con Ed took out to "empathize" with Queens residents but not totally apologize. And the Queens blackout lasted for 10 days (or so, depending on where) - here's a look at what was happening on the fifth day.