Bath Beach

Brooklyn blackouts spur demand for expanded Con Ed probe

July 19, 2019 Paula Katinas
Dyker Heights is one of several Brooklyn neighborhoods that have overhead electrical wires and have experienced service disruptions. Photo by Paula Katinas

The big blackout in Manhattan on July 13, which knocked out power for more than 70,000 customers and closed Broadway theaters for the night, was just one of many problems with electricity in New York City in recent weeks, according to two Brooklyn lawmakers who are demanding that New York State take action.

Councilmembers Justin Brannan and Mark Treyger are asking the state’s Public Service Commission to investigate Con Edison in the wake of service disruptions in Southwest Brooklyn neighborhoods like Gravesend, Bath Beach and Coney Island. Brannan, a Democrat, represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst. Treyger is a Democrat whose council district covers Coney Island and Gravesend and includes parts of Bensonhurst.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has requested that New York State Public Service Commission investigate Con Ed and the Manhattan blackout. Brannan and Treyger are asking for a Brooklyn probe to be part of that investigation.

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The councilmembers said a more expansive probe into Con Ed is needed to ensure better service citywide, pointing to a July 17 power outage in Gravesend that affected thousands of residents.

According to New York City Emergency Management, Con Ed was at Stillwell Avenue and Avenue Z in Gravesend on the morning of July 17 to address a power outage apparently caused by downed power lines. The disruption affected 1,172 customers.

“This is completely unacceptable that another service outage has occurred in New York City, leaving Con Edison customers without power, impacting vulnerable residents in Gravesend, Bath Beach, some of Coney Island, the Block Institute, which serves children and adults with disabilities and small businesses in the neighborhoods,” the two lawmakers said in a joint statement.

Most of the households affected by the outage had their power restored in approximately six minutes, according to Emergency Management.

Earlier this summer, there was a service disruption in Dyker Heights.


“Frequently, service outages have occurred in Gravesend, Bath Beach and Dyker Heights as well, and our offices have documented and met with Con Edison in the past, but they continue to happen. Residents need answers and we demand answers to this recurrent event,” Brannan and Treyger said.

James Denn, a spokesperson for the New York State Department of Public Service, said the agency is currently busy looking into the Manhattan blackout.

“The Department of Public Service will review any and all possible causes of the outage. As directed by Governor Cuomo, DPS is conducting its own independent investigation into the incident, and it would be premature to suggest a possible cause before that investigation is complete,” he said in an email.

Con Edison declined to address the probe or the councilmembers’ demand in an email to the Brooklyn Eagle, but touted their ongoing investment into powering the city.

“We are privileged to be the energy provider for the world’s greatest city and proud that our electric service is among the most reliable in the nation. We invest $1.5 billion a year on new feeder cables, transformers, substation upgrades and other equipment that keeps the system robust,” a spokesperson for Con Ed said.

“When outages occur our crews respond efficiently and professionally to get customers back in service. We are mobilized to do just that during this weekend’s heat wave.”


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  1. BklynT

    While the easy target is Con Ed, how about investigating developers who continue to add to the grid without providing added infrastructure support. Perhaps an “infrastructure tax” could be added on new buildings to provide much needed upgrades to schools, public transportation, water and…electricity.