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Is Con-Ed's LoHo Area Grid Deteriorating?


Councilmember Alan J. Gerson in front of the diesel generators
by Yori Yanover

Councilmember Alan J. Gerson pointed at two large diesel generators that stood by the curb near the Henrietta Szold PS 134, at 293 East Broadway, the corner of Grand Street. He was also pointing to the dark shrouds covering the front of the school, and the ongoing construction work. "All we're doing is renovating a school here," said Gerson, "and that is enough to put the power over the edge."

If you're looking for additional reasons to be concerned about the quality of life in the LoHo area, it turns out that the diesel generators were placed there following a warning from Con Edison, that the additional demand on power by the renovation work conducted in the school this summer and through the fall was burdening the electric grid to a dangerous extent.

Said Gerson, "Con Ed has to do major rewiring. It's going to take them 45 days to rework the underground system to provide enough power."

The school discovered only two weeks ago it didn't have enough electricity, according to Gerson. "We're calling for an overall assessment of the Lower East Side Power grid, and for better communication between the city administration and Con Edison.

"You saw the outages this summer in Queens," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. "Clearly there's a problem in the city in terms of the infrastructure being rather old. The incentive in transmission has been taken out. We went to competition in power production, but not in transmission. So the transmission system is what's failing miserably here in New York."

When asked to elaborate, Silver continued, "We have moved in the last ten years to a competitive system in the provision of power to people. So you can buy from Con Edison or from independent companies and have that power be transmitted to you" by your local company. "Here it's Con Edison, elsewhere it can be Brooklyn Union Gas, New York State Electric and Gas, who all have monopolies on the delivery."

Silver concluded, "We have taken the incentive out of companies upgrading their system. Con ed has the monopoly here and their infrastructure, the capital investment that they made is rather old and that's part of the problem. They're not constantly upgrading."

The notes on the condition of the Con Edison infrastructure in our area were taken during a press conference on the state of the renovations at PS 134. We're waiting for a response from Con Ed.

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