To the editor,

I am writing to suggest that my fellow residents assist in holding Con Edison responsible for its disastrous handling of these storms and, further, to support steps that would ensure these now common shortcomings are not repeated.

Like too many here, I, my wife and three children ages 5, 3, and 8 months have been without power for more than a week. That we could live within commuting distance of one of the most prominent cities in the world and be without power for eight full days is simply unfathomable.

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Compounding matters is the inaccuracy of Con Ed’s estimated restoration times. The initial estimate was 11 p.m. Tuesday, March 6. That was moved to 11 p.m. Friday, March 9. Fifteen minutes prior to that deadline, it was moved to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 10. The latest re-estimation occurred after Con Ed supposedly fixed a glitch with its information system. 

Please review that timeline because it indicates that until 15 minutes before its estimated deadline, Con Ed didn’t seem know/realize/report that it would be at least a full 24 hours delayed. How can one be working on a problem and only realize moments before the deadline that it is fully 24 hours behind schedule?

These estimates are important because families, like ours, are making decisions based on those estimates being credible. For instance, we had left to stay far upstate with family and returned on the evening of March 6 as that estimate had been unchanged for days. Had we known that it would be this long, we surely would have chosen to delay our return.

It is important to note that this is hardly the first time that it has taken days to a week to have power restored. In point of fact, it’s at least the fourth that I can recall since moving here in 2009. Each time, the story is same: slow response and inaccurate estimates for power restoration.

Moving forward, I suggest that the utilities be pressured to begin a program by which they systematically bury the power lines underground. After all, other utility lines (water, gas) are already buried for obvious reasons. New home developments and subdivisions already routinely bury power lines for aesthetic reasons. This current model of stringing power lines near, between and around trees and branches and then keeping our fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong is patently absurd. Better preventative maintenance such as proper tree trimming would help, but burying the lines would permanently solve the problem.

Doubtless this would be expensive initially, but eventually there would be cost savings as there would be far less tree-related maintenance and emergency repairs to contend with. Such a project could be planned and executed over a 10- or 20-year period. If necessary, perhaps Con Ed could put the $804 million it paid in dividends last year to better use. For the record, Con Ed touts 44 consecutive years of dividend increases; wouldn’t it be nice if instead Con Ed could celebrate 44 years of uninterrupted service to its customers?

If everyone reading this stopped and immediately spent the five minutes it would take to send an email to any one of our elected representatives, it could be a small but important first step.