Amid continued outages in Queens nearly a week after Tropical Storm Isaias - and a new outage that affected thousands of customers in the Bronx Monday - Mayor Bill de Blasio is questioning whether Con Edison should be a publicly owned utility.
As of 10:10 p.m. Monday, more than 5,500 Con Edison customers in the five boroughs were without power, according to the company's outage map.
Elected officials have targeted the utility lately as New Yorkers’ ire has grown, particularly since blackouts last summer left hundreds of thousands of people in the dark.
Earlier this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an investigation into Con Ed and other utilities in the state, citing “the reckless disregard by utility companies to adequately plan” for the storm. And last summer, Cuomo repeatedly threatened to revoke Con Ed's license.
On his weekly "Mondays with the Mayor" interview on Inside City Hall, de Blasio added to the fire, suggesting the city or state could take over the utility, although he did not provide further details.
“They were thrown a real tough curveball here, but clearly they were not in the kind of position we would have wanted,” the mayor told NY1 Political Anchor Errol Louis. “My question remains: why is this being done by a private company? Can a private company even possibly be responsive enough to the people? I’m not sure. I think the bigger conversation, Errol, is, should this be a publicly-owned utility that we can hold accountable?”
Con Ed's outage map indicates that more than 4,000 of the customers without power as of 10:10 p.m. - about 74% - are Queens residents.
After almost a full week without power, residents along 78th Street in Woodhaven finally got it back Monday night.
Monday afternoon, NY1 spotted crews in nine different trucks working on restoring power in Woodhaven. Some were from Con Edison. Others were contractors with a company from Texas. By early Monday evening, only a few trucks remained.
Residents were happy to see them, but unhappy with how long it took for them to get there.
"I walked all around the neighborhood looking for one Con Ed, anything, you know? Somebody coming out of a store with a coffee? None. Nowhere. This way, that way? Not parked nowhere," said one Woodhaven resident. "All of a sudden, now they are everywhere.”
The biggest issue for some residents was with the utility's customer service. According to the Con Ed website, this summer, residential customers “may see a 9.5% increase in summer bills compared to last summer,” which the company said is “a result of higher supply charges by power generators.” Woodhaven residents said for what they pay, they deserve better.
"They should be investigated," said one resident. "This is nonsense. It’s just not right."
Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee, Queens elected officials and community boards will gather on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at Borough Hall to discuss Con Edison’s disastrous response to Queens. More than 73,000 customers lost power in the wake of Isaias.
Meanwhile, a new round of power outages hit more than 3,600 Con Ed customers in northeastern sections of the Bronx Monday afternoon. That outage has since been restored.
The utility said that outage was caused by cable failure, and was not connected to Isaias.
NY1 crews spotted traffic lights on the street around the intersection of Allerton Avenue and Eastchester Road being turned back on in the early evening.
Some residents have gotten power restored, but told NY1 it has been on and off since about 4 a.m. Monday.
The spike in outages is familiar territory for residents in Pelham Gardens. Many residents in this community lost power Tuesday night because of the storm. Some got it back Wednesday, while others were without power until Thursday night.
Con Ed told residents power will be fully restored by 11 p.m.
The utility says anyone who lost power for more than 48 hours can be reimbursed up to $235 if they had spoiled food they had to throw away. Anyone who wishes to do so can fill out a claims form.