Utility Regulator Will Examine Root Cause of Failure of Power Equipment that Caused Significant Community Safety Concerns and Power Outages
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo called for the New York State Public Service Commission to investigate the cause behind a major electrical failure at a Con Edison substation in Astoria, Queens shortly after 9 p.m. yesterday. While the incident did not cause any significant injuries or apparently result in damage to personal property, it did raise questions about the safety of the substation and Con Edison equipment while also disrupting operations at LaGuardia Airport, the No. 7 subway line of the MTA and the city's prison system at Rikers Island, which had to switch to back-up generators. More information is available here.
AUDIO of Governor Cuomo's remarks is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Governor Cuomo: My pleasure to be with Mr. McAvoy today, the Chairman and CEO of Con Edison. We also have representatives from the New York State Public Service Commission, New York State DEC, a number of Con Ed personnel. As everybody knows, last night at approximately 9:00 p.m., there was a malfunction and a major electrical failure at this plant. A piece of equipment that handles 138,000 volts of electricity, which is an extraordinary amount, malfunctioned. The malfunction of that piece of equipment created, essentially, an arch that went from the piece of equipment, which is about 15 feet, 20 feet high to ground, and the arching of that electricity was basically a manmade lightning bolt from that arching, which created a tremendous blue light which people saw yesterday.
The system also had a device, which is essentially a circuit breaker device that did not trigger and that is something that is going to be looked at. The Public Service Commission will be working with Con Ed to review the equipment and to see if there are any modifications that can be made to make sure it doesn't happen again. I've spoken to the people at the Port Authority that runs LaGuardia Airport, which is one of the areas that was affected, to talk to them about their backup generation power. We expect situations to develop, but the redundancy in the system is important and having LaGuardia having backup generators that allow LaGuardia to function is something that we're going to further explore. Con Edison got the power back on in an amazingly short period of time, given the malfunction. And LaGuardia was basically up and running in about one hour. So, I think the Con Edison handled the situation very well.
There was speculation, when people saw the blue light, as to what it might be. I'm a Queens boy originally, born and bred. People from Queens tend to be a little suspicious. There were some rumors that maybe it was an alien invasion, an alien life, UFO landing. And sometimes we can be skeptical of government bureaucracies. I saw the equipment, I saw the damage, I saw what was burned, and what it was is what is. It has been represented to be an electrical malfunction. We did find one piece of evidence that is a little peculiar. This was on the site, which raised some questions, but I'm told it's a piece of safety equipment for workers, which I believe. But there is no proof to the alien invasion or alien UFO landing whatsoever.