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Study: Con Ed Offered Low Reimbursement For 2006 Queens Blackout

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Consolidated Edison paid for less than a tenth of damages to residents and business that were affected by the July 2006 blackout in Queens, according to a new study by Pace University.

The nine power outage, which began exactly four years ago, affected 174,000 people and created about $188 million in damages, according to the study.

"We lost a lot of money. We had to throw away material. The ice cream especially, it was all melted. And we had to give away a lot of free food," said Christina Panagaotopoulos of Astoria's Igloo Cafe.

"We were on line waiting for water, ice. It was pretty bad," said an Astoria resident.

"We didn't have lights, we didn't have refrigeration. Everybody was suffering," said another resident.

Queens Assemblyman Michael Gianaris said that Con Edison's settlement let the utility get off easy, because under current laws the energy giant cannot be sued for ordinary negligence.

"They gave a $100 credit to businesses that were affected and some businesses got a little more than that, but nowhere near the damages that were caused," said Gianaris.

The assemblyman is pushing for state legislation to make Con Ed more accountable, a battle lobbyists for the utility will no doubt fight hard against.

"Despite the fact that they're a monopoly and they're guaranteed profits, they have these extra protections where if they do something wrong, you can't go and sue them like you could any other company," said Gianaris.

Con Ed officials said in a statement Friday, "Since 2006, Con Edison has made substantial changes in its operational and communication procedures, including significant improvements in tracking customer outages. Additionally, Con Edison has invested billions (more than $5 billion) in infrastructure enhancements throughout our entire system."

The Pace study was funded by Con Ed's blackout settlement.

The current heat wave is expected to continue into the weekend, and Queens residents hope another serious blackout can be averted.

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