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State lawmakers to hold hearing on Con Ed blackouts

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Lawmakers will grill the utility company on a spate of summer outages

Midtown Manhattan’s silhouetted skyline as the sunsets during the July 13, 2019 blackout.
Midtown’s silhouetted skyline during the July 13 blackout.
AFP/Getty Images

State lawmakers will grill Con Edison on a spate of summer blackouts that left tens of thousands of New Yorkers without power.

The Assembly and the Senate will hold a joint hearing on the utility company after persistent power failures struck the metropolitan area in July and August.

“Members from both houses have called for a hearing after meeting with constituents impacted by the rolling blackouts,” Senators Leroy Comrie (Queens) Kevin Parker (Brooklyn) and Assembly members Amy Paulin (Scarsdale) and Michael Cusick (Staten Island) said in a joint statement.

The hearing is set for September 3 and will examine Con Edison’s “preparedness and response” to the outages and mull “remedies to ensure system reliability in the future,” the cadre of State Senators said.

State lawmakers were quick to joined the chorus of incensed elected officials after a crippling power failure hit the heart of Manhattan on July 13, leaving more than 70,000 customers in the dark, trapped in subway tunnels, and stranded in elevators.

A week later, as a heat wave hit the city with a blistering heat index of 100 degrees, another 50,000 New Yorkers lost juice as Con Ed’s system buckled under the strain of energy use. As crews worked to restore power the city was pummeled by a system of thunderstorms, forcing swaths of the city to yet again lose power.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted the string of outages as “unacceptable” and threatened to revoke the company’s license—though he has made similar threats in years past. Mayor Bill de Blasio similarly bashed the grid’s lack of resilience 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 rate hikes sought by Con Ed, which is currently petitioning the New York Public Service Commission for a 8.6 percent electricity rate hike.