Patterico's Pontifications


It’s Hot in NY and 20k don’t have Power

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:08 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

A dangerous weekend heat wave unfolded over the Northeast, at one point leaving 50,000 without power in NYC. Power was restored to all but 20,000 customers in Brooklyn. Now NYC mayor calls for probe as many wait for power in the heat:

Mayor Bill de Blasio called for an investigation Monday of power outages that came at the end of this weekend’s oppressive heat, saying he no longer trusts utility Con Edison after it decided to turn off power to thousands of customers.

Around 30,000 customers in Brooklyn were taken off power Sunday, so the utility could make repairs and prevent a bigger outage, de Blasio had said earlier.

On Monday, he offered a blistering assessment of that decision. “This should not have happened,” he told reporters, “and we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Ny Governor Andrew Cuomo also blamed Con Ed:

We’ve been through this situation w ConEd time & again & they should have been better prepared—period.

Last week, after an earlier outage, Mayor de Blasio asked residents and businesses not to go overboard on air conditioning to avoid straining the grid.

People die in heat waves like this. Now what, New York? New York politicians can pontificate or even increase regulations so they can claim they are doing something about grid problems, or they can build more power plants so there are reserves for times of extraordinary demand, or they can make it even worse: New York adopts rules to phase out coal power plants by 2020.

I hope they get power restored soon and there are no more heat-related deaths.


19 Responses to “It’s Hot in NY and 20k don’t have Power”

  1. The question I have. Is ConEd unable to generate enough electricity, or are they unable to deliver enough electricity through their infrastructure? The news stories really aren’t clear about that. If it’s the latter, then taking the coal plants offline doesn’t really matter. If it’s the former, than Cuomo, who spends his days being Mr. Green, needs to stop bashing ConEd.

    Appalled (d07ae6)

  2. Good question. I don’t know, Appalled. ConEd’s long-range planning [PDF] says it only generates 5% of the energy it uses, so it is basically an energy transmission company. The link mentions that government focus on energy efficiency and alternate energy sources has changed its long-term “business model.” It appears to me the change involves saving energy by moving from traditional infrastructure to more flexible, shared energy transmission facilities. It also appears the initial facilities are located in Brooklyn-Queens but that might be a coincidence.

    Overall, it suggests you are right that they have a delivery problem but IMO the origin of the problem is a desire to reduce power generating facilities.

    DRJ (15874d)

  3. DRJ —

    My limited understanding is that shifting to renewals puts a strain on infrstructure, because the power delivery from solar and wind depends on whether the sun is out or the wind is blowing. Nevertheless, given the nature of ConEd’s business (delivery), they ought to be able to handle it. They are in the business of somebody else generating the power they transmit.

    I live in a place with a burgeoning population and summers in the 90s, and load based blackouts don’t happen. If Southern Company can handle it, why can’t ConEd?

    Appalled (d07ae6)

  4. I don’t know but it sounds like the state is making them experiment with other, non-traditional delivery systems to save energy. Those systems may be untested or not as reliable.

    DRJ (15874d)

  5. Plus this from the past decade:

    Con Edison plans to complete eight more substations by 2017, but a shortage of land, rising real estate prices and opposition from neighbors are making it more difficult to find suitable locations.

    DRJ (15874d)

  6. I wish AOC would return to where she came from and demonstrate for all of us how Green Energy works and how a modern leader can keep the lights on. Once she has shown us it works in her home town, then she can take the national spotlight and pulpit and preach her gospel for all the rest of us.

    That’s how Rick Perry did it, for instance. And we gotta give Rahm Emanual credit– he went back to the hole from which he first emerged and is trying to demonstrate his talents in repairing Chicago. I hope he — or somebody — can.

    Pouncer (df6448)

  7. Speed up the switch to renewable energy, – Never again will only 20k be with out power –

    Joe - the climate scientist (debac0)

  8. This is the time of year when Floridians invite Northerners to come down and cool off….

    kishnevi (496414)

  9. Now I got that silly joke out of my system.

    Part of me suspects that at least part of the problem involves the fact that NYC is a lot of people in a small area, all needing energy at the same time. So I went looking to see how perhaps another megacity might compare–Tokyo–and got diverted to this

    Since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and the subsequent large scale shutdown on the nuclear power industry, Japan’s ten regional electricity operators have been making very large financial losses, larger than US$15 billion in both 2012 and 2013.[4]

    Since then steps have been made to liberalize the electricity supply market.[4][5] In April 2016 domestic and small business mains voltage customers became able to select from over 250 supplier companies competitively selling electricity, though many of these only sell locally mainly in large cities. Also wholesale electricity trading on the Japan Electric Power Exchange (JEPX), which previously only traded 1.5% of power generation, was encouraged.[6][7] By June 2016 more than 1 million consumers had changed supplier.[8] However total costs of liberalization to that point were around ¥80 billion, so it is unclear if consumers had benefited financially.[8][9]

    In 2020 transmission and distribution infrastructure access will be made more open, which will help competitive suppliers cut costs.[8]

    Which led to this

    n 1990 there was a significant development in the way electricity was bought and sold. In many countries, the electricity market was deregulated to open up the supply of electricity to competition. In the United Kingdom the electricity supply industry was radically reformed to establish competition, including a market in advising users about switching supplier. This trend continued in other countries (see New Zealand Electricity Market and deregulation) and the role of electricity retailing changed from what was essentially an administrative function within an integrated utility to become a risk management function within a competitive electricity market.

    Electricity retailers now offer fixed prices or variable for electricity to their customers and manage the risk involved in purchasing electricity from spot markets or electricity pools. This development has not been without casualties. The most notable example of poor risk management (coupled with poor market regulation) was the 2001 California electricity crisis, when Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison were driven into bankruptcy by having to purchase electricity at high spot prices and sell at low fixed rates.

    Customers may choose from a number of competing suppliers. They may also opt to purchase “green” power, i.e. electricity sourced from renewable energy generation such as wind power or solar power.[1]

    United States
    Over the past several decades, many US states have moved to deregulate their electric markets, with 24 states allowing for at least some competition among retail electric providers (REPs) including California, Texas, and New York.[2] These companies include Ambit Energy, TXU, Just Energy, Con Edison, Champion Energy, Constellation, and Reliant Energy among many others. Deregulation of electric retailers has been subject to much controversy as more states have opted for competitive markets.[3]

    kishnevi (496414)

  10. Trying not to have a link heavy comment….
    The second page has a graph about Texas electricity price but for some reason it’s labelled in French. “Exemple de tarif d’électricité d’opérateurs du Texas, du mois de mai au mois d’octobre”

    And for a listing of which states are deregulating electricity and which one deregulating gas (to do one is not to do the other)

    New York state deregulated both. Texas only deregulated electricity. A number of politically red states deregulate neither. In fact, only New Jersey and Pennsylvania have deregulated both. Another five, plus the District of Columbia, have deregulated electricity and have pilot programs for gas deregulation. Another seven have suspended electricity deregulation–all but one of them Pacific coast or Western states.

    kishnevi (496414)

    Need a climate change? 11 climate zones is one of the reasons I love this place.

    mg (8cbc69)

  12. 3. Appalled (d07ae6) — 7/22/2019 @ 8:21 am

    If Southern Company can handle it, why can’t ConEd?

    It might not have enough capacity.

    There was no record yesterday, only a record for a non-weekday.

    Sammy Finkelman (e4c0a6)

  13. Hot town, Summer in the city
    Back of my neck gettin’ dirty an gritty

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  14. last time i looked, 300 million of us do NOT live in New York City. But i suppose some people care. It is remarkable how the NBC/CBS/ABC/MSNBC/CNN/FOX News types all think we are fascinated by Manhattan and what goes on there. But i think its because they all live there.

    It reminds me of a story in the 1990s. 20,000 murder every year all around the country with nary a mention. But when the niece of a Connecticut Senator was killed in Central Park the headline in Newsweek and Time was “America’s Crime Wave. What can we do?”

    rcocean (1a839e)

  15. If they have their way, you will be made to care:

    Narciso (5d1b28)

  16. Governor ZCuomo is trying to make the electricity supply problem worse:


    The Indian Point nuclear power plant north of New York City has been supplying low-cost electricity to the metropolitan area for more than 50 years. But to hear Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo tell it, New Yorkers will hardly miss Indian Point.

    Mr. Cuomo announced on Monday that the state had reached an agreement with the plant’s operator, Entergy, to shut it down by April 2021. He minimized the effects the closure would have on the power grid, electric bills, workers and the regional economy.

    Of course, the point of peril is when they shut it down.

    Moreover, a surprising portion of the system is idle except for the hottest days of the year, when already bottlenecked transmission lines into the New York City area reach their physical limit…

    …Since most power is generated in less populated areas, certain lines that carry it downstate during times of peak demand can become gridlocked…

    …“New York is the poster child for congestion,” said Bill Booth, a senior adviser to the United States Energy Information Administration.

    To get around bottlenecks, grid operators may turn on more expensive or less efficient generators closer to where the demand is. Think of it as paying more for a carton of milk at the bodega next door than at the supermarket 12 blocks away.

    The state is prioritizing projects to bring more power downstate from wind farms and hydro plants. The need is even more urgent with plans to close Indian Point as soon as 2021, as it supplies about one-fourth of the power consumed in New York City and Westchester County.

    But building new power lines is fiercely unpopular. Residents don’t want high-voltage lines in their backyards, and local power generators dislike competition from cheaper power brought in from farther away. Even if the lines are below ground, like the ones that bring power to Manhattan from New Jersey through the muck of the Hudson River, securing federal and state permits can take years.

    One project to bring hydropower from Quebec to New York City under Lake Champlain and the Hudson has been in the works since 2008.

    Despite enhancements, the transmission grid is aging. More than 80 percent of the lines went active before 1980, and Nyiso estimates that almost 5,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines will have to be replaced in the next 30 years at a cost of about $25 billion.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  17. kishnevi @9

    From Wikipedia

    many US states have moved to deregulate their electric markets, with 24 states allowing for at least some competition among retail electric providers (REPs) including California, Texas, and New York

    This is a scam, the way it worked in New York, and I didn’t learn about it tilll about a year ago. The thing is, you could never get the price you would pay for supply is you used just Con Edison. Nearly everyone who used an ESCO paid more – some a lot more. the politicians finally deicided to do alittle about it.

    Now Con Ed bills tell the comparable price.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  18. Good grief, I can remember Christmas days when it was 95 degrees. I can also remember Christmas days when it was 16 degrees. We didn’t have blackouts or brownouts either time.

    In fact, the last time we had a blackout was because the local electricity company had switched to solar power, and it failed.

    Think about that. In the Rio Grande Valley, where the temperature rarely gets below 70 degrees and the sun shines all the time–summer days here are usually in the 90s–solar power failed to provide electricity. Go figure.

    Winters here are usually short and not very cold, maybe in the 40s. Summers here are long and very hot, often in the 100s. Solar power doesn’t work here?

    I don’t know about Con Ed or New York. But it seems to me that electricity companies are using weather excuses to jack up prices. There was an episode of Law & Order about that, by the way.

    We’re used to living with heat down here. And it’s wet heat, due to the humidity, not dry heat, like you would experience in someplace like Arizona, a desert community.

    Me, I prefer to live where it’s hot, so that I don’t have to put on layers of clothes. I can handle the heat. Me and cold don’t mix, although I have had to go through cold periods on occasion.

    My advice to people in the Northeast, suffering through this heat wave, is to muscle up. Yeah, it’s hot outside, so what? Hope you have central air conditioning inside. Oh, and now you don’t. Was that because your electricity company switched to solar power, to preserve the environment, prevent climate change? If it doesn’t work now, what do you think is going to happen when it’s cold and dark, when you need heat?

    I feel no sympathy for these people. Learn to live in the heat, as I have all of my life.

    The electrical grid here is fully functional, now that it’s gone off solar. The lights are on, the air conditioning is functioning. Everything is right with the world.

    Gawain's Ghost (b25cd1)

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