Archive for the tag 'electricity'

A map of the approximate outage area, where 7,724 households were affected. Those shaded red were restored within 20 minutes, while 201 customers in the purple-shaded area were without power until 9 a.m.

A map of the approximate outage area, where 7,724 households were affected. Those shaded red were restored within 20 minutes, while 201 customers in the purple-shaded area were without power until 9 a.m.

As many as 7,724 Con Edison customers along a broad swath of Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend and Manhattan Beach were left without power this morning after an electrical line snapped.

The first reports of power outages hit the utility company at 7:16 a.m., a Con Edison representative told Sheepshead Bites. The company was able to respond quickly, bringing power back online for 7,523 customers within 20 minutes. But another 201 customers, largely in Manhattan Beach, remained without power until 9 a.m.

The outage affected thousands of households between Avenue R and Oriental Boulevard, and between West 7th Street and Knapp Street. While most saw service restored quickly, Plumb Beach and Manhattan Beach residents from Voorhies Avenue to Oriental Boulevard, and from Pembroke Street to Brighton 11th Street saw the longest delays in restoring electricity.

Con Edison said a downed power line caused the outage, but has not yet said where the power line was, or what caused it to fail.

If you know the location of the downed power line, please share with us in the comments.

UPDATE (11:51 a.m.): Con Edison just informed us that the downed power line was on East 19th Street, just north of Voorhies Avenue. They still could not say what caused it to go down.

Source: niznoz/Flickr

Source: niznoz/Flickr

by Jennifer Szulman

It has been more than a year since Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of the East Coast, yet Brighton Beach leaders say Con Edison and local landlords have not yet fully recovered – and it could cost residents a small fortune due to ongoing billing issues.

A series of billing and infrastructural snafus, some on behalf of the utility company, and others due to landlords’ sluggishness with repairs, will lead to large future bills for many customers. That has local business and tenant advocates concerned.


Yelena Makhnin, the executive director of the Brighton Beach Business Improvement District, said that Brighton Beach residents are concerned about their Con Edison bills since the storm damaged their electricity meters. Some residents have received bills as low as $20 per month when they’re used to seeing $80; others have received estimated bills or no bills whatsoever.

That means the company has not been billing for actual usage, and plans to make up the shortfall on future bills.

According to Con Edison’s Public Affairs Manager Sidney Alvarez, a future bill will consist of the months that customers haven’t been charged. It will be estimated on a case by case basis and calculated from each resident’s typical use of electricity prior to Superstorm Sandy. Alvarez suggested that residents stay in close contact with Con Edison for questions about bill adjustments, accommodations or payment plans.

Most of the billing problems stem from damaged electrical meter systems in large buildings, which some landlords haven’t remedied. When Con Edison finds that a meter has not been properly repaired, they may suspend billing.

“Building owners are responsible for making repairs, upgrades and modifications,” Alvarez said. “Once work is completed Con Edison will make the necessary inspections to service the area and issue the required orders.”

In large buildings, though, building owners aren’t the ones that need to worry about electrical bills, since those are handled directly by the residents. So there’s little incentive to make repairs, and some landlords are dragging their feet due to the high costs, Makhnin said.

“The landlords have to pay for it. They are not talking about $2,000 or $3,000, but a much greater amount,” Makhnin said. “Take into consideration the amount of money already spent [to repair boilers, etc]; they might see changing meters as an expense they cannot afford.”

Residents, meanwhile, are left at the utility company’s mercy.

Singer (Photo by Erica Sherman)

Singer (Photo by Erica Sherman)

When Brighton Neighborhood Association founder and local resident Pat Singer started receiving estimated bills from Con Edison shortly after Superstorm Sandy, she thought it was going to be a temporary way to cope with the aftermath of the storm. In April, Singer paid an estimated bill of roughly $17, as opposed to her typical charge of $80 to $150, depending on the season. Singer later received a letter from Con Edison saying that while they would still provide electricity to the complex, they were not going to bill her anymore until the meters in her 96-unit building are replaced.

The meters in her building are due to come soon, according to Singer, but she fears the “estimated” expense of her future bills.

“They’re going to have to pull the figure out of a hat if you don’t have a meter,” Singer said. “Of course they’re going to pull the figure out on their side, not on our side. They should waive some of these fees; it shouldn’t be a blow like this with one big giant bill. They shouldn’t have stopped billing. I’ve never experienced anything like that.”

Both Singer and Makhnin agree that this is a serious issue that needs to go beyond a “he said, she said” debate. Both women feel the government needs to intervene and Sandy relief money should be used to help the residents pay for the mounting costs.

“I’m not saying that the city, federal government or FEMA has to pay for changing meters, but there should be a way to give landlords some kind of incentive to help them a little bit,” Makhnin said. “I believe the city has to step in – not by issuing fines but trying to find a solution to help both sides. People should not have to choose, especially elderly on a fixed income, between paying Con Edison bills and buying food.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Source: Philip Kamrass / Times Union)

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Source: Philip Kamrass / Times Union)

Citing Con Edison’s lackluster performance during Superstorm Sandy, Governor Andrew Cuomo urged the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to deny Con Ed’s requested rate increase for 2014. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Cuomo is demanding that utility companies be more accountable for their service.

According to the report, Con Ed is seeking a 4 percent rate increase on electricity bills and a 1.5 percent increase on gas bills. Cuomo was straightforward in his opposition to allowing Con Ed to raise their rates:

“It’s clear that now is not the time for Con Edison to demand that its customers pay more,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement…

In a letter to the bi-partisan PSC, Mr. Cuomo said last year’s hurricane and the Metro-North outage “reinforced the importance of a reliable electric system and the need to hold utilities accountable for their preparedness and response, especially when considering potential rate hikes.”

The letter noted that ConEd customers pay among the highest electricity prices in the nation, “making it essential that the Commission scrutinize any request for further rate increases.”

Con Ed responded to Cuomo’s comments by indicating that infrastructure investment must be made in case of future storms.

“We will continue working with the Commission, and state and local officials, on the importance of protecting New York City and Westchester from the next major storm.  We also must continue making investments necessary to maintain the high level of reliability New Yorkers expect and deserve,” Con Ed said in a statement.

Cuomo dismissed the argument that Con Ed needed to raise rates to improve their service.

“Given the historically low interest rates and the economic and income growth forecasts, such investments can be made without the rate increase requested by the utility. Maintaining stable rates and indeed, lowering rates whenever feasible, is critical to supporting our economic recovery and creating jobs in the region,” Cuomo wrote.

Source: niznoz/Flickr

Source: niznoz/Flickr

We received this from Micah Rome, an energy efficiency consultant with Con Edison’s Small Business Team, who has been doing outreach in Sheepshead Bay to save our business owners some cash. Here’s what he had to say:

ConEdison’s Small Business Energy Program offers FREE energy efficiency assessments that can help small businesses throughout New York City save money on their ConEdison electricity bills and help protect the environment.  The way the program works is that each qualifying ConEdison account is eligible for a free energy efficiency assessment to determine measures that can be taken to reduce electricity usage.  Any efficiency measures identified in the assessment are then eligible for up to a 70% subsidy for materials and installation from ConEdison.  You can find more information about the program at

One Sheepshead Bay business that took advantage of the ConEdison’s program was Monica’s Bridal.  The store replaced all of there standard lighting with energy efficienct LED lighting last year.  Since then the store owner has reported that the electricity bill has dropped from $5,000 to $1,400 per month.

Small business owners should also be aware that as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 the production of T12 fluorescent lamps has been discontinued as of July 14, 2012.  More information here:  T12 lamps are the most common type of fluorescent lamps and ConEdison’s Small Business Energy Program can help you upgrade your lighting.  If you have T12 lamps or if you are not sure, call 646-770-7623 for your free small business energy efficiency assessment.

Source: niznoz/Flickr

More than 1,230 households are without power in Marine Park, Mill Basin and other areas, after a transformer exploded on Avenue T and Hendrickson Street.

The explosion occurred at approximately 6:40 p.m., and Con Edison has been called to the scene.

Notify NYC has issued the following report:

Con Edison is responding to a power outage in Brooklyn zip codes 11226, 11203, 11210, 11229, 11234, and 11236.  To report a loss of electric service, contact Con Edison at 1-800-75-CONED (26633) or online at

The Con Edison power outage map gives an estimated restoration time of 1:00 p.m. December 5.

[UDPATE [12:25 p.m.): Ryles has notified Sheepshead Bites that power has been restored.]

A swath of Kingsborough Community College’s (2001 Oriental Boulevard) campus went dark this morning, forcing a partial evacuation as administrators and crews work to assess the system’s status.

A tipster on campus for a test at the school’s library notified Sheepshead Bites at approximately 11:00 a.m. that the library had been suddenly evacuated as the lights went out. The test administrators did not share details with our tipster, but did say that buildings without power were being evacuated due to an “emergency on campus,” and that it might have to do with a broader power outage affecting Manhattan Beach.

Ruby Ryles, a spokesperson for Kingsborough, confirmed that there was presently a power outage in her office in the Administration building.

“We just haven’t determined to what extent the outage is, but part, if not all, of the campus is without power,” she told Sheepshead Bites.

Ryles could not confirm if any buildings other than the library had been evacuated, or what the cause of the outage is. We are waiting to hear back from her if she receives more information, and will post when received.

It’s not clear how large the outage is. A resident on Hastings Street and Oriental Boulevard, near the neighborhood’s center, noted that he still had power. Menorah Home and Hospital (1516 Oriental Boulevard), located adjacent to the school, also has power, a rep told us.

Swaths of the community have been without power since Superstorm Sandy flooded homes and Con Edison infrastructure, and Con Edison has been doing construction work in the community.  Their outage map does not appear to reflect the Kingsborough outage as of press time, but there is a marker nearby on the map noting that there is an “emergency outage to make repairs.”

This is a breaking news story and may contain inaccuracies. We will update it as more information becomes available. If anyone has more information or additional photos, please send them to tips (at) sheepsheadbites (dot) com.

Source: niznoz/Flickr

We know we’ve got a lot of angry readers, upset about their lack of power and Con Edison’s sluggish recovery efforts. Part of that is because of fire safety – following Sandy, Con Edison’s rush to restore power sparked several blazes as damaged wiring inside homes became energized. Others, though, claim that the neighborhood just isn’t getting enough attention, and customers are getting a runaround when they try to go through the now-mandatory certification process before power is restored.

Well, forget calling them and waiting on hold. You can now get some face-to-face attention. Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz informed us last night that Con Edison’s command trailer and outreach van are now parked at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Voorhies Avenue. It will remain there 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the foreseeable future to assist Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach residents with power issues relating to Hurricane Sandy.

The command trailer has forms and other information for customers who have been in the dark for the last week and a half, including the self-certify forms, which in theory will speed up the normal service restoration process. Personnel at the accompanying outreach van are available to field individual Con Edison complaints.

Con Ed vans and trailers are also parked in Sea Gate (Lyme Avenue and Highland Avenue) and in Gerritsen Beach (Gerritsen Avenue and Lois Avenue).

Super reader Ilan. P just informed us of a little-known claim form on Con Edison’s website, allowing residents to be reimbursed up to $450 for actual losses of food spoiled due to lack of refrigeration from a power outage. Furthermore, they’ll reimburse businesses up to $9,000 for actual losses of perishable merchandise spoiled due to lack of refrigeration.

With thousands of residences and businesses out of power for this long, it’s no wonder Con Edison is staying hush-hush about this particular claim. But all the info can be found on their website.

Huge thanks to Ilan. Hopefully this helps some of our residents and local businesses get back on their feet in the face of the awful economic toll of Hurricane Sandy.

Clarification (5:15 p.m.): As many readers have pointed out, Con Edison has clearly stated they will not reimburse for food lost due to Hurricane Sandy. However, since the storm has left the area, several parts of the neighborhood that had power throughout the ordeal have since lost it, or others where it was restored later lost it again. It wasn’t clear in the original post, but we’re encouraging those of you who’ve experiences power outages after having power following the storm to apply for this compensation. We do not guarantee you will receive anything, but it’s worth the 10 minutes if you do.

Source: niznoz/Flickr

Councilman Michael Nelson’s office needs your help to get power back to areas still blacked out from Hurricane Sandy.

According to representatives for the councilman, his office is working closely with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the Office of Emergency Management and Con Edison to expedite restoration of power to the neighborhood.

But amid the confusion of Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, identifying priorities remains in the hands of residents.

The councilman’s office is asking that those without power or know of large buildings or blocks without power to email, or to call Mary Scarfogliero at (917) 494-6208.

They ask that you include the address of the property without power, and, if you have it, the following information:

  • Approximate number of tenants or apartments if a large building or block
  • Management company contact information, including name and number, or
  • The superintendent’s name and number, or
  • If a private property, the name and phone number of the owner.

Residents should also call (800) 75-CONED and file an individual complaint. The office reminds residents not to assume the company knows about it or someone else has lodged a complaint. Areas that receive the most complaints are prioritized by the company.

Additionally, Nelson’s office was flooded during the storm, and so calling his district office or trying to walk in won’t work. Use the contact information about for any requests to his office you may have.

When power returned unexpectedly to huge swaths of the neighborhood yesterday, it brought fires with it as electricity surged into broken power lines and flooded homes.

In the video above, Sheepshead Bites reader Marina captured a tree on East 21st Street between Avenue Y and Avenue Z that burst into flames when a broken power line draped across it came alive.

In Manhattan Beach, much of it still under inches of water and with homes flooded, the return of power led to what one described as an “underground explosion.” Police were reportedly telling people to leave their homes and blocked off sections as fire crews responded across the area.

Homes in Manhattan Beach and Sheepshead Bay lit up, and sparks flew from home power lines and caused basement fires.

If your power has not yet been restored, make sure to manually shut off power to your home using your circuit breaker. If your circuit breaker was soaked from the floods, you should have an electrician evaluate it before turning it back on. If you do it yourself, use rubber gloves and rubber soled shoes, and only turn individual sections of your home so you don’t overload your system.

According to the Con Edison outage map, thousands in the area are still without power. While the map does not currently show estimated restoration times, you can get that by using the tool here.

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