Starting last night, power went out in parts of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, and Con Ed is still working to get the juice flowing again so that customers can continue paying through the nose for the supplier's slapdash service. Yesterday afternoon Con Ed kindly requested that customers in parts of Brooklyn and the Upper West Side turn off all non-essential appliances to avoid a brownout, but the brownout "voltage reduction" began anyway within hours. Con Ed reduced voltage to the area by 8 percent, making it difficult to operate A.C. during the summer's first heat advisory. (This handy map shows where the power outages were.)

The company cited "problems with electrical cables" as the source of the brownout, which in English translates to "typical incompetence." South Ozone Park was without power for most of the night, ABC reports, but crews are starting to restore electricity. According to Con Ed, there were 88 customers without power in the Bronx, but most of the outages were in and around Williamsburg, where 1,312 customers are still without power, down from 5,000 without power last night. As of 9 a.m., Con Ed's voltage reduction ended, and customers are no longer requested to turn off non-essential appliances.

Con Ed spokesman Bob McGee tells us that the company plans for a peak demand of 12,000 megawatts, and yesterday was the 34th time in history that demand rose above that, to 12,680 megawatts at 3 p.m. We asked what these outages bode for the rest of the summer, seeing as we're only in June, and McGee told us, "We're well prepared, but from heat wave to heat wave there are certainly variations. There are different feeders affected by the heat, but we have multiple redundancies so if one feeder goes out, another one can compensate. Hopefully we'll have a good summer."

Greentechgrid says the situation shows why we need a "smart grid," and also points out that "many consumer electronic devices and other digital equipment starts to malfunction, and can become damaged, when they are 'fed' power with voltage below 114V."