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Severe thunderstorms trigger more outages as Con Ed struggles to restore power

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Some who had power restored only hours earlier lost it again amid the storms

Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

More than 11,000 New Yorkers lost power Monday night as severe thunderstorms walloped New York City. The deluge came as Con Edison crews had yet to fully restore power to sections of Brooklyn and Queens that had lost power over the weekend.

Whipping winds and sheets of rain downed power lines and equipment across the boroughs, bringing the tally up to 15,000 customers without juice late Monday. Some who had their power restored only hours earlier lost it during the torrential downpour, according to the utility company.

Con Ed spokesperson Allen Drury said crews are scrambling to replace downed power lines and transformers, but that the work is slow going.

“It will take some hours. It’s hard work. Replacing a utility pole is not easy,” said Drury. Con Ed does not have an estimate of when power will be fully restored.

As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, the private company had the lights back on for the bulk of customers with 1,700 homes still dark from the storms and 1,500 New Yorkers who lost their power during Sunday’s heat wave still without power two days later. Even the utility company’s digital map of power outages was temporarily down Tuesday morning.

The spate of outages came after New York City was overwhelmed by a scorching weekend heat wave. As Con Ed’s grid strained under the demand for electricity, more than 50,000 Brooklynites lost power and some 30,000 had their lights deliberately cut to lighten the load on the utility company’s infrastructure.

This came just over a week after a five-hour blackout hit the west side of Manhattan, dimming the lights of Time Square, trapping city dwellers in subway tunnels, and canceling Broadway shows. Con Ed has warned that New Yorkers should be prepared for more outages this summer.

Incensed elected officials have blasted the utility company, which is one of the country’s largest serving 10 million customers in New York City and Westchester County. Con Ed is a private company, but state regulators governor its ability to increase rates on customers.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the situation “unacceptable” and has threatened to revoke the company's license—though he has made similar threats in years past. Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is “extremely disappointed” with Con Ed and questioned if the city would be better served by a new public entity. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has also called for a freeze on possible rate hikes for Con Ed, which is currently petitioning the New York Public Service Commission for a 8.6 percent electricity rate hike.