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Power is still out in Western Queens. As we noted yesterday ConEd has now admitted that they vastly underestimated the number of people who have been without power for the past five days. While they initially said that there were 2,500 folks in the dark the number looks now to be at least ten times that number. And that's not even touching the estimated 100,000 people who are still living off of reduced voltage (enough for flickering lights, not enough to keep food cold let alone use AC or elevators).

ConEd still has no idea what caused this blackout, there seems to be extensive damage to both the primary and secondary grids, but the utility claims to be trying to fix the problem as quickly and safely as possible (isn't that nice of them?). As for when everything will be back on, your guess seems to be as good as theirs as they seem to have no realistic timetables. While this mess rumbles on, Bloomberg, unlike past mayors who've loved to use ConEd as a whipping boy, has refused to blame the utility saying instead "The sad thing is, this shouldn't have happened. We don't know why, but the most important thing - make sure nobody dies or gets hurt."

Shouldn't have happened isn't good enough for some politicians who smell blood in the water. Take for example Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) who said that "The fact that they misled the city as to how many people were affected led the city to withhold important resources. It's one thing to be incompetent, but to know that elderly and sick Queens residents were without vital services for days because of Con Edison's lies is just criminal."

In the meantime if you are living in an affected area we can't recommend enough taking the utility for every penny they've cost you. You can go here to fill out a claim. Sadly residential customers can only get up to $350 and commercial customers can only get up to $7k. Do we smell a class-action lawsuit coming?

Oh, yeah, and if all that isn't not enough for you, the Indian Point 3 nuclear power plant had to be shut down yesterday due to "electric arcing" in a non-nuclear section of the plant. It should be back online and juicing the grid by the end of the weekend.

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Update: Bloomberg gave another press conference today in which he pushed back the time-frame for power returning to Queens. Hizzoner now says that most Queens residents currently in the dark will not have their power back tomorrow as yesterday's intense storms have set back much of the haltering progress that ConEd had made:

“Keep in mind, the fundamental thing that people want to know is when is it all going to be back,” he said. “I don’t think anybody can give a good answer. Con Ed’s just got to plow through it manhole by manhole and hopefully there’s no more damage. Unfortunately, they’ve had a couple of their feeders — because of yesterday’s storms — did go back out so when they thought they’d have all of their feeders back and be able to raise the voltage, they have been unable to do that. Hopefully, they’ll get those back today. It is a constant ongoing process, and they will continue to do that.”

“This is a very strange phenomenon,” said Joe Flaherty, a consultant to Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers Union of America, told the Times. Yes, Mr. Flaherty, it is.

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