Nine days after Tropical Storm Isaias knocked out power for tens of thousands of New Yorkers, the lights are back on for all affected customers, Con Edison said Thursday afternoon.
Wednesday, the utility said it was working on about 1,800 outages not related to the storm, which had been reduced to 114 customers by 10 p.m. Thursday.
Isaias resulted in more than 130,000 customers in the five boroughs losing power, although less than 100 customers in Manhattan lost power due to the storm. Manhattan usually avoids widespread outages because its power lines are underground, but there were significant outages in Manhattan during Hurricane Sandy after rising storm surges caused an explosion at an East River power plant.
A "customer" outage does not necessarily reflect one resident or household. For example, in some instances, a "customer" outage could reflect an entire residential building.
Con Ed said it was the second-worst storm outage it had ever seen, trailing only Sandy.
Queens was particularly hit hard by the outages, as hundreds of people suffered through a heat wave with no electricity or AC.
The utility said 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.
The utility company blames underground flooding and downed trees for the delay in service restoration, and said its above-ground electrical wiring was damaged in the storm.
But the speed of Con Edison’s work drew the ire of New Yorkers. The president of the utility told NY1 on Monday that service should have all been restored by the end of the day, but outages persisted.
“You know, it's miserable. Since then, no power, no heat. People don’t sleep. My food in the refrigerator wasted,” one woman in South Ozone Park said Tuesday while she waited for her power to be restored.
Elected officials took Con Edison to task at a press conference in the borough Tuesday, calling the company’s response "disastrous."
“There was an inequitable and disproportionate pace of power restoration for Queens relative to the rest of the city,“ said acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee.
A Con Edison spokesperson admitted "Queens was hit particularly hard by this storm," although they added the company had "been aggressive" in their response there.
Elected officials representing Queens have called on Con Edison to provide 73,000 borough residents with a full rebate for their August bill.
Gov. 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. Last summer, Cuomo repeatedly threatened to revoke Con Ed's license.
On a similar vein, some elected officials have floated a takeover. Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested the city or state could take over the utility, although he did not provide further details. And Public Advocate Jumaane Williams wants to do away with Con Ed altogether and replace it with a municipal utility, effectively allowing city to run the power grid itself.
But the utility likely will survive for the foreseeable future. The Public Advocate's plan would face enormous political and legal hurdles. It requires condemning Con Ed's assets, then allowing the city to acquire them.
This story includes reporting from Bobby Cuza.
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