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10.VI.D

New York City (NYC)
Queens Blackout - 2006

 
 
Queens Blackout - 2006
Photo Credit: The New York Times
 
     
 

The Queens blackout of 2006 was one of the longest blackouts to hit the New York City (NYC) region. It began on July 17th and continued for eight days until power was restored on July 25th. The length of the blackout caused many problems for Queens residents and incurred an estimated amount of $188 million in damages. New Yorkers were further burdened by the heat of July; left without air conditioning, refrigeration, water or lights as the situation quickly became dire. The elderly and the ill, being the most vulnerable to the situation were the priority for NYC's emergency dispatch system. They also provided refrigerated insulin for diabetics in the affected region, and senior centers stayed open even through the weekends. The Red Cross took the initiative by providing approximately 20,000 bottles of water and 15,000 meals. In total, an estimated 175,000 people were affected by the event, although Con Edison insisted that the number was closer to 8,000.

The event sparked criticism towards Con Edison for their lack of appropriate reaction and handling of the power failure. The electricity in Queens came from the Long Island City network, which reportedly had the most feeder cable failures of any other network in the region. Upon inspection, it was also discovered that majority of the failed equipment had parts aged 30 to 70 years, violating the company's operating specifications. The extensive damage on the equipment, which elongated the duration of the blackout was the result of a delay in emergency response. Many argued that a controlled shutdown of the network would have been a more efficient way to managing the failure. Shutting down the network early would have caused an even bigger blackout to occur, however, the damage sustained by the equipment would have been less extensive and the blackout would have lasted a couple of days rather than a whole week.

There were other concerns expressed regarding the way Con Edison poorly handled their assesment of the situation. Because they underreported the numbers of people affected, rescue teams and assistance was delayed. After electricity was finally restored to Queens, to compensate for business losses, Con Edison provided a mere $100 credit for those affected. In addition, they offered refunds to residents of buildings affected, provided they had receipts for groceries purchased during the blackout period. Since the 2006 blackout, Con Edison has made improvements in their operational and communication procedures. They have also invested about $5 billion to update old equipment and improve machinery.

 
     
 
Sources:
nytimes.com
usatoday.com
ny1.com