Archive for the tag 'winter'

Chuck Schumer in the 1960s, competing for James Madison High School on the It’s Academic television quiz show.

In the wake of extraordinary rate hikes during the winter, Senator Charles Schumer has requested the the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a government organization meant to protect consumers, investigate New York area power companies to make sure the increases were not a result of corruption or gouging.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which provides similar oversight of power and energy suppliers, has already launched an investigation into electric companies including Con Edison.

Schumer is pushing the FTC to coordinate with FERC, and provide them with resources for the investigation.

“I write to urge that the FTC directly support ongoing investigative efforts led by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC),” Schumer writes, “to determine whether any wrongful conduct or uncompetitive practices took place this winter as record cold temperatures drove up natural gas and electric prices to record levels.”

In the same press release, his office explains that the rise in energy costs is suspicious.

“Utilities throughout the state have attributed the increase to record-low temperatures and high demand for natural gas, but Schumer said that the size of the rate increases were so high that he is concerned it outpaced the actual increase in wholesale energy costs for utilities.”

His office has requested that the “entire wholesale electric and natural gas markets” be investigated to make sure that customers were not being improperly overcharged. Schumer would also like to see electricity rates come back down.

To illustrate this rise, Schumer pointed to examples like a Brooklyn Con Ed customer who was charged 13.82 cents/kWh in February 2013 and 20.52 cents/kWh in February 2014. In New York, most electricity is generated with natural gas, so the price of natural gas has an outsized impact on electricity bills.

Earlier this year the New York Post reported on this rise and pointed out that the “supply charge” is the reason for an increase in price.

The supply charge, which covers the cost of actually generating electricity, is the source of this winter’s power-bill misery.

Con Edison’s electricity supply charges are adjusted daily, the company says. The number that shows up in bills is an average of the daily prices.

A Con Ed customer with a billing period from Dec. 30 to Jan. 30 paid an average supply charge for the month of 23.1 cents per kilowatt hour — a shocking 83 percent boost over the 12.6-cent charge during the same period last year.

Schumer has previously asked federal regulators to investigate the price increase. Syracuse news reported earlier this month that Schumer sought a federal probe into the matters.

They wrote:

Schumer said he has no evidence of wrongdoing but sees no good explanation for why consumer electric bills jumped 60 percent or more compared with last winter.

“Like you, I’m concerned that utilities are using the cold weather and the demand for natural gas to justify skyrocketing rates,” Schumer said today. “We can’t let those factors protect these multibillion-dollar dollar companies from scrutiny.”

Schumer also questioned whether wholesale energy companies manipulated electric or gas markets by withholding capacity to drive up prices.

WTF, Weather?


weather

A streak of beautiful, if wet, weather saw flowers bloom over the past weeks, only to be crushed and killed – like our spirits – by a frost this morning.

It’s like the brutal, long winter wanted to give us one final kick in the rear on its way out.

Discuss.

Photo by Roman Kruglov

BETWEEN THE LINES: New Yorkers warmly embraced a balmy weekend that likely thawed their chilled bodies and spirits. However, the forecast isn’t pleasant and looks like we’re in for Frigid Winter, Part Two. [Ed. – It was snowing all morning. We need this like we need holes in our heads.]

No sooner did Mother Nature tease us with a brief respite, with temperatures topping 50 degrees for three consecutive days, than we were alerted to a cold air mass heading south that will return temperatures below-freezing by mid-week.

Temperatures reached a high over the weekend not seen since it was a 55 on January 5, 2014 the day before the mercury nose-dived to a record low five degrees and frequently remained below freezing for the next six weeks.

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Source: Stephen Nessen / Flickr

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Source: Stephen Nessen / Flickr

BETWEEN THE LINES: With possibly the worst storm of the season, packed with heavy snow, sleet and rain racing up the East Coast, flights were grounded and government offices to the south of the city closed, but late last Wednesday Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Education (DOE) decided that public schools would open the following day. Hours earlier, severe winter storm warnings and advisories had been issued from Georgia to Maine, with thousands of school districts closed ahead of the storm’s leading edge. But New York City parents went to bed dazed and confused, because public school students were expected to be in school Thursday morning.

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Not an efficient space heater. (Source: groggy.girl/Flickr)

Well, it seems like we’re on day 527 of freezing cold weather, and by my count we’ve had something like a billion inches of snow.

As neighbors bundle up and gather around the radiator, there have been a number of reports of fires, burns and other tragedies caused, in part, by home heating equipment.

In fact, according to the National Fire Preparedness Association, half of all home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January and February. And half of home heating fire deaths result from keeping things too close to a heat source.

So we’re passing on some tips from that organization to help make sure you have a warm and safe winter. Share them with friends and family, because I hate writing stories like this.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or other space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room and burn only dry, seasoned wood. Allow ashes to cool before disposing in a metal container, which is kept a safe distance from the home.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
Soruce: Claudio Forquina

Soruce: Claudio Forquina

Every New Year’s Day, dozens of bold (crazy) people flock to the shore to join members of the Coney Polar Bear swim club and plunge into the frigid ocean, all for a chance to feel what it is like to have ice cold water lap against their private parts. What a lot of people don’t know is that the New Year’s Day swim, which anyone can participate in, is only one in a series of otherwise exclusive icy swim outings undertaken by the Polar Bears all winter. Amusing the Zillion is reporting that the Polar Bear’s are accepting new members and are employing a lottery system to divvy out the open spots.

While the media makes it seem that the Polar Bears are out only on January 1, the club has an active schedule all winter. Every Sunday at 1 p.m., from November 3 until April, enthused Coney Polar Bear members gather to brave the frosty waters of the Atlantic, refusing to deny themselves ocean splendor until the hot summer months.

If this sounds like your idea of a great time, you can join them by registering for a lottery that will select 10 lucky people. Amusing the Zillion broke down what is expected of selected new members:

To register for the lottery, you must sign up here and will be notified of the results by November 9th. Selected applicants are required to pay a $25 application fee (non-refundable), participate in 12 swims within a single season between November and April and be voted in by a majority of the membership. The club has approximately 150 full-time members with about 100 coming out for weekly swims…

You can also join the Coney Polar Bear Club for one guest swim. Just show up at the Bears “Clubhouse” at the Aquarium’s Education Hall on the Coney Island Boardwalk at West 8th Street by 12:30 pm with your bathing suit, a towel, surf boots or an extra pair of sneakers, and some warm clothing.

On the registration page, I found the last perk to be the most interesting one promised to members:

The privileges of membership:

  • Participation in our weekly swims and other Club activities
  • Use of our changing facilities
  • Full voting rights
  • The right to own and wear the official Club patch
  • Bragging rights to your wimp friends

Yes, your wimp friends will have no choice but to bow down to your official Polar Bear club patch all while you brag about the time you flung yourself into 12 degree water last February.

Anyway, their swims on New Year’s Eve, which are open to all, are done to raise money for Camp Sunshine and other charities for children with life threatening diseases. According to Amusing the Zillion, the Polar Bears pull down $20,000 annually for their causes, which is amazing and should be applauded.

Anyway, the Polar Bears are announcing their new members on Saturday, November 9, so if you want a shot to join them, you best register quickly. Good luck!

flu

I stopped by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’s office today for a free flu shot, ensuring a strong, healthy winter so that I can keep being a slave for you ingrates.

It was painless, and I was in and out in less than 15 minutes. I even got a free bottle of hand sanitizer. Golly!

Did you get yours yet? It’s not too late. Here’s the list of remaining free flu shot events offered by our local elected officials. Please go get one. I really hate it when people sneeze around me.

Date Time Location Sponsor Appointment Required? Contact Info
10/17/2013 Call For Appointment 3520 Nostrand Avenue Assemblywoman Weinstein Yes 718-648-4700
10/18/2013 10am-2pm 2424 Ralph Avenue Assemblyman Maisel Yes 718-968-2770
10/21/2013 10am – 1:00pm 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz Yes 718-743-4078
10/21/2013 10am-2pm 2424 Ralph Avenue Assemblyman Maisel Yes 718-968-2770
10/22/2013 11am to 4pm Carro Center at 3000 Fillmore Av Senator Golden and Millenium Development Yes 718-238-6044
10/25/2013 10am-1:30pm 1402 East 64th Street Councilman Fidler Yes 718-241-9330
10/29/2013 11am to 4pm Avenue T and VanSicklen St Senator Golden and Sts Simon and Jude Yes 718-238-6044
10/30/2013 1:00pm – 4:00pm 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz Yes 718-743-4078
11/4/2013 Call For Appointment 3520 Nostrand Avenue Assemblywoman Weinstein Yes 718-648-4700
11/6/2013 3pm-6:30pm 1402 East 64th Street Councilman Fidler Yes 718-241-9330

Free Flu Shot Schedule 2013


Source: hitthatswitch/Flickr

Every year our elected officials descend upon community meetings like white blood cells on foreign bodies, all to tout the free flu shots their office will offer ahead of the winter season.

This year is no different, and it’s only a matter of time until the ritualistic boasting begins, with Councilman Lew Fidler telling constituents that his flu shots are more effective than those offered by Assemblymembers Alan Maisel or Helene Weinstein, and the others countering that it might be true, but theirs will make you cooler and sexier. And what would you rather be? Sexy, or healthy?

Ah, it’s a question for the ages, and one that can only be settled by the inevitable fight to the death between our elected officials, in which we toss them in an arena littered with rabid porcupines and arm the pols only with syringes full of flu.

Alas, such just blood-sport is not yet legal. If any of our elected officials truly believe in their words, may they will use their legislative powers to make it so.

In the meantime, until the blood has been shed, let us all consider each of us truly victorious, as we have nearly two dozen opportunities to obtain a free flu shot in the weeks to come.

Here’s the schedule, which may be updated throughout the season as we learn of more dates.

(Are you an elected official or representative of an organization offering free flu shots in the Sheepshead Bay area? E-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com and we’ll get you added to the list.)

Date Time Location Sponsor Appointment Required? Contact Info
9/30/2013 10am-2pm 2424 Ralph Avenue Assemblyman Maisel Yes 718-968-2770
10/1/2013 Call For Appointment 3520 Nostrand Avenue Assemblywoman Weinstein Yes 718-648-4700
10/2/2013 3:00-6:30pm 1402 East 64th Street Councilman Fidler Yes 718-241-9330
10/7/2013 10am – 1:00pm 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz Yes 718-743-4078
10/8/2013 9am-12pm -call for appt/walk in 1605 Voorhies Avenue, 1st Fl Councilman Nelson Yes 718-368-9176 ext. 5
10/9/2013 10am-2pm 2424 Ralph Avenue Assemblyman Maisel Yes 718-968-2770
10/11/2013 10am-1:30pm 1402 East 64th Street Councilman Fidler Yes 718-241-9330
10/16/2013 Call For Appointment 1655 Flatbush Avenue Assemblywoman Weinstein Yes 718-648-4700
10/16/2013 1:00pm – 4:00pm 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz Yes 718-743-4078
10/17/2013 Call For Appointment 3520 Nostrand Avenue Assemblywoman Weinstein Yes 718-648-4700
10/18/2013 10am-2pm 2424 Ralph Avenue Assemblyman Maisel Yes 718-968-2770
10/21/2013 10am – 1:00pm 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz Yes 718-743-4078
10/21/2013 10am-2pm 2424 Ralph Avenue Assemblyman Maisel Yes 718-968-2770
10/22/2013 11am to 4pm Carro Center at 3000 Fillmore Av Senator Golden and Millenium Development Yes 718-238-6044
10/25/2013 10am-1:30pm 1402 East 64th Street Councilman Fidler Yes 718-241-9330
10/29/2013 11am to 4pm Avenue T and VanSicklen St Senator Golden and Sts Simon and Jude Yes 718-238-6044
10/30/2013 1:00pm – 4:00pm 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz Yes 718-743-4078
11/1/2013 Call For Appointment 3520 Nostrand Avenue Assemblywoman Weinstein Yes 718-648-4700
11/6/2013 3pm-6:30pm 1402 East 64th Street Councilman Fidler Yes 718-241-9330

The first day of spring was yesterday. It was cold, windy and generally miserable. Today isn’t so different. In honor of spring’s horrible two-day start, I thought it might be appropriate to share this video of the cold and snowy Brighton Beach winter captured by alekseyfedorov on YouTube.

His video contrasts the sad, frozen landscape of Brighton Beach with beautiful images of soaring birds, frolicking snow lovers and pretty icicles hanging off rocks by the beach. Good stuff Aleksey.

Soruce: weather.com

There was a time when I enjoyed snow and snowy days. There used to be a thrill in getting off from school, or work, and then adventuring out into the fluffy white stuff and frolicking around.

Those days are gone for me. I hate the winter and its frozen air, shutting us in our homes and whipping our faces with cold when we try and walk around outside. Sadly, it looks like we are about to get a big dose of winter this weekend, as Nemo blows into town.

According to the Weather Channel, Nemo could be a storm of historic proportions. I think I speak for about eight million people when I say this city has had its fill of historic storms recently and the promise of a new one does nothing but fill me gloom.

On the bright side, barring a miscalculation from the weather experts, Nemo will hit hardest in New England, burying Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine with two to three feet of snow while New York will only be dealing with about a half a foot of snow; annoying, but manageable.

So, just in case we get a taste of what is expected to be dumped on New England, it might be a good time to stock on groceries, reassess any serious weekend traveling and prepare for potential power outages caused by high speed damaging winds.

Best of luck and stay safe.

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