Hours after the West Side of Manhattan lost power on Saturday,
Mayor Governor Andrew Cuomo toured the Con Edison substation where the problem started. And in a series of interviews—at least six since the blackout—he has threatened the utility. "Blackouts cannot happen... in the city of New York. And that can't happen for no reason... There was no high load. They don't know what happened," Cuomo remarked on the Brian Lehrer Show on Monday.
He called the power outage, which spanned from 30th Street to 72nd Street, between Fifth Avenue and the Hudson River, a "serious public safety risk," and noted that this is "not the first time we've had a problem with Con Ed. Just in the past few years, we've had a transformer fire in Astoria, we had a Brooklyn transformer fire, a Lower Manhattan transformer fire. This is Russian roulette. People can die."
A West Side substation "de-energized" on Saturday, affecting six networks, with 72,000 metered customers (which include both households and businesses, like venues, apartment buildings, and the subway system) losing power. Con Ed was able to bring power back just before midnight, but the utility said the outage was not related to demand and admitted it doesn't know what the cause of the blackout was yet, promising an extensive review to understand what happened. [Update: The outage was caused by a more minor 13,000 volt feeder cable blowing out.]
"A Con Ed spokesperson said today that New Yorkers have to be patient," Cuomo told Lehrer. "With public safety, we don't have to be patient—and we shouldn't be patient. And frankly, I think that's the exact wrong message for Con Ed. We need performance. People pay Con Ed. When they get the bill from Con Ed, they can't say 'Be patient.' This is a vital service they're providing."
Cuomo then declared: "If they do not perform, they can be replaced. Con Ed almost has an attitude of the too-big-to-fail banks. This is a franchise. This is a license. This is not a God-given-right." He noted that he has an independent commission "that commenced last night," and wants an independent investigation to find out what happened so this does not happen again.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) August 10, 2017
This morning, a Con Ed spokesperson remarked about the upcoming heat wave, telling PIX 11, "We expect that there could be service outages. Those things happen during heat waves. "Our crews are ready to respond. We are going to be prepared for this. It's going to be intense."
The utility's president, Timothy Cawley, said that Saturday's blackout was similar to the 2006 Astoria blackout where "a series of cable failures in Astoria led remaining power cables—and, yes, transformers—to fail and catch fire." Residents in Astoria were left without power for a week at the time.