If you want to read an incredibly damning indictment of Con Edison ever put to 185-page PDF, we highly recommend reading the Public Service Commission study (here's the PDF) of what happened during last summer's Queens blackout. Our favorite summary of the major screw up that was Con Ed's response is Con Edison’s performance in preparing for, and responding to, the outage event was deficient, a gross disservice to its customers. Or is it The Company failed to fulfill its responsibilities under Public Service Law. And then there's

While many line employees of Con Edison worked hard to contain the crisis, the Company’s senior management failed, or refused to comprehend, the magnitude of the damage to its secondary system and the subsequent impact on consumers. The processing of the event illustrates deficiencies in the Company's ability to accurately develop and process information in an emergency and properly communicate that information internally and externally.

Around page 39 of the study, you get the the customer reactions to the blackout. They are heartbreaking and anger-inducing:

“My power was lost on Monday evening, July 17. I am 92 years old and live alone. I was very afraid because I live alone and I had no electricity or hot water. My family came to get me and took me to the state of Pennsylvania. If I did not have family, I would have been dead." Another consumer said, “...does Con Edison… have any idea what it is like to sleep in an oven for seven nights, to worry about your mother who is a senior citizen who decided to leave the apartment after three days of sweating like a pig, only to find her on the fourth floor crying and stating she had chest pains from trying to walk up six flights of stairs?"


What's even better is that when customers called Con Ed, they were told "You are not out of service" and "It must be a problem with your equipment, call an electrician". And then there's City Councilman Eric Gioia's testimony, which we'll put after the jump, about a senior center.

The report details a litany of problems, like how the Con Ed neglected maintenance problems in the Long Island City network (guess blaming the equipment is a no go) and how the poor counting of how many customers were affected prevented the city from sending out emergency resources immediately. Con Ed's numbers were grossly understated, saying just 2,500 customers were hit, while the number was actually 65,000 customers which translates into about 174,000 people; for some reason, 3,000 customers is a threshold for emergency action.

Con Ed may now face huge fines, and the NY Times says the "withering assessment" is "all but certain to renew calls for the ouster of Con Edison’s chairman and chief executive, Kevin M. Burke." Mayor Bloomberg, your suggestion that Queens should thank Burke looks even dumber now. And Burke, your non-apology is one for the fairy tales.

Photograph of Astoria in the dark by mercurialn on Flickr and photograph of "You Suck" sign by huckfunn on Flickr

From City Councilman Eric Gioia's testimony about the Queens blackout:

On the very first day of the black out I was called to go to Berkely Towers. It's a retirement community. They have no water. They have no electricity. It's a 12-story building. There are a lot of--about a thousand senior citizens live in a one block area over there. The first door I knocked on was an 87-year-old woman who had not had water in one day. I immediately called in the Red Cross for emergency relief who brought out food and brought out water. I did that for the Sunnyside Senior Center, which is a cooling center, where the city sends people in this type of emergency. Well, if the power is out, it's hot, go to the cooling center. Well, guess what? The power wasn't on at the Sunnyside Senior Center. Let me correct that because according to Con Edison the power was on. There was a little yellow light bulb in the hallway. The elevators were out and the air conditioning was off. We actually had to take people in wheelchairs, to carry them down the stairs to get them out of the building. Con Edison didn't know this was going on. When I actually spoke to the head of the senior center he told me Con Edison asked him to turn off his power. When I asked the chairman of Con Edison about this on Monday he didn't have any information about that.