Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
That is the motto Assemblymember Michael Gianaris has adopted this summer when talking about Con Edison and the fears of possible blackouts similar to those that crippled parts of northwestern Queens for up to 10 days last year.
“I don’t have a lot of confidence [in Con Edison] based on our direct experience, [but] hopefully they are doing their job,” Gianaris said. “I’m advising everyone who asks me to be prepared if they [Con Edison] fall on their face again.”
As temperatures soared into the 90s in many parts of Queens on Tuesday and Wednesday June 26 and 27, trepidations amongst residents and business owners also swelled, particularly those who were victims of last year’s outage.
“Last year’s blackout was terrible; we lost everything,” said Phillipe Flory, owner of Ste. Honore Patisserie on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria.
Even after enduring the devastating effects of the blackout, Flory said there was not enough room in his store to put a backup generator so there was nothing major he could do in order to prepare for another blackout.
“We don’t do anything differently now,” Flory said. “Hopefully it won’t happen again. You have to have faith.”
As of Wednesday morning, June 27, Con Edison reported only scattered outages on the previous day, and said it had only 10 customers in Queens without power according to a spokesperson. The spokesperson said that the high temperatures on Tuesday, June 26 did not cause record power usage by customers, but the company did have crews available in case they were needed for a particular area.
While business owners in Long Island City and Astoria continue to recover financially from the losses they suffered last year, Con Edison officials testified at a joint city council hearing about long-term improvements and capital projects the utility giant is planning for the entire city.
In addition, councilmembers questioned John Miksad, Senior Vice President of Electric Operations for Con Edison, about the recent rate hike the company asked the Public Service Commission to approve for next year. The proposed hike would increase an individual customer’s bill by $12 per month and business by $235.
“I would think, if necessary, smaller annual increases would be preferable to consumers of electricity within the region,” said City Councilmember Leroy Comrie, who chairs the Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee. “Households would expect the small increases and have the ability to plan budgets accordingly.”
With additional reporting by Tracy Soren and Michelle Varga
City Councilmember Eric Gioia recommends that Con Edison customers have the following supplies ready in case of another blackout this year.
Water (Several gallons per person)
Food (3-day supply of non-perishables)
Flashlight and extra batteries
Prescription medications and glasses
Pet food and extra water for your pet
Cash or traveler’s checks and change
Non-cordless home phone