On a Hot Day, 96,000 New Yorkers Are Asked to Conserve Power

Weather: Showers likely today with a high around 80, turning mostly sunny on Saturday. There is a chance of thunderstorms on Sunday.

Alternate-side parking: Suspended through Sunday.


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Credit…Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Many New Yorkers are hunkered down in their apartments on scorching summer days because of the pandemic. Their air-conditioners are blasting, and that means electricity consumption is soaring, stressing the city’s power grid.

But over the past couple of weeks, residents in three boroughs have been urged to conserve energy in an effort to prevent blackouts and brownouts. Consolidated Edison — the utility company that operates the grid — and the mayor have suggested that for several hours, tens of thousands of people not run energy-intensive appliances, like washers, dryers and microwaves, and limit the use of air-conditioners.

“We’ve got to protect our electricity supply for all New Yorkers,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday. “We’ve got to make sure we avoid any disruptions.”

Since late winter, Con Edison has been preparing for an uptick in use in certain residential areas and a decrease in consumption in commercial districts like Midtown, which is virtually a ghost town amid the pandemic.

On Wednesday and Thursday, three cables in Brooklyn overheated and needed repairs because of the hot weather and increased demand for electricity. That caused Con Edison to ask some residents to conserve power. The company also reduced the voltage in the area enough that customers might have noticed their lights were a bit dimmer.

It’s not unusual for cables to break down in the summer, when temperatures rise past 90 degrees and people run air-conditioners round the clock. Cooling is the biggest energy drain in homes, my colleague Henry Fountain has reported. It accounted for about one-sixth of residential electricity use in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“Intense heat, humidity and the resulting increase in the demand for power place stress on electric-delivery equipment,” Allan Drury, a Con Edison spokesman, said. “Our goal is to keep outages short in duration and geographically confined.”

The overheating of cables this week — which affected 96,000 customers in Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, Park Slope, Sunset Park, Dyker Heights, Borough Park and Gowanus — was the third time this month that the heat affected electricity delivery in the city. Last week, cables in parts of Queens and the Bronx also needed to be repaired, and residents there were also told to limit consumption.

“The equipment problems in these neighborhoods have no effect on the rest of the Con Edison system,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Last July, a power failure plunged the west side of Manhattan into darkness, stopping concerts, elevators and several subway lines for about five hours. The failure happened on the 42nd anniversary of the infamous blackout of 1977, and Con Edison said it was the result of “a significant electrical transmission disturbance.”

Just a week later, at least 50,000 customers were left without power in New York City and Westchester County on a dangerously hot day. Overhead lines had been in danger of overloading because of the heat. So, as a precaution, power was turned off to tens of thousands of customers so Con Edison could make repairs to “prevent a bigger outage,” Mr. de Blasio said on Twitter at the time.


The Times’s Melissa Guerrero writes:

Although most performance spaces, museums and community centers are closed, people are finding creative ways to connect through virtual events and programs. Here are suggestions for maintaining a New York social life this weekend while keeping a safe distance from other people.

On Friday at 7 p.m., learn about bitters, the cocktail and mocktail ingredient made from spices, flowers, barks, fruit peels and more, in a Zoom class hosted by Brooklyn Brainery.

Buy tickets on the event page.

Starting on Friday at midnight and running through Monday, watch three short Armenian films at your leisure, and participate in a Q. and A. with the directors Ovsanna Gevorgyan, Eric Shahinian and Michael Aloyan.

Learn more about the free event on this Facebook page.

On Sunday at 7 p.m., watch a reading of “Simply María, or the American Dream,” a one-act play by Josefina López. Contributions to the organizer, the Latinx Artists Collective, will benefit the Vanessa Guillén GoFundMe.

Access the livestream on the event page.

It’s Friday — cheers!


Dear Diary:

I had a job at the local supermarket in Bay Ridge. Sal, the manager, and I would open up every Saturday morning at 8 a.m. In between serving the occasional customer at the deli or in the produce section, I brought in and put away the milk. I also worked the register.

One of the regular customers, an older man, usually bought about five items. He would place each one on the counter, watch me ring it up and then go on to the next item.

After he paid, he would check each item against the receipt and then he would take out a pencil and make sure it all added up correctly.

Sal sensed my frustration with this routine.

“Try being nice,” he said. “He is probably a lonely old man.”

For the next two weeks, whenever the man came in I would ring each item up patiently, calling out the price as he placed it on the counter. Then I would give him a pencil along with his receipt.

The first time he came in the week after that, he put everything on the counter at once, and I rang him up.

“Sir,” I said as he was leaving, “you forgot your receipt.”

“I don’t need it,” he said.

— Matt Morrone


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