Utility will spend $9M to fix Brooklyn grid after rolling outages

Zap, pop! Balloons causing Southern Brooklyn blackouts, Con Ed sez

Brooklyn Daily
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These blackouts aren’t to be taken lightly.

Con Edison will invest a $9 million jolt of funding to minimize blackouts in response to a wave of outages that hit Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, and Manhattan Beach in recent months. Balloons and boughs are to blame for the frequent outages, a utility spokeswoman said.

“The recent outages in Gravesend were caused by tree limbs and Mylar balloons on the overhead lines, and equipment issues,” said Con Ed spokeswoman Joy Faber. “Mylar balloons, which are made of metallic material, are issues for overhead electric lines throughout the country. When the balloons are aloft and the metal material comes in contact with critical overhead electric infrastructure, they can create short circuits thus creating outages.”

But the metallic party favors are really foiling locals, one community activist said.

“Some had scary problems — one woman with multiple sclerosis has to refrigerate her medication, so losing electricity was dangerous,” West Street resident Priscilla Consolo said.

Consolo and her neighbors experienced roughly half a dozen blackouts since January — some lasting only a few minutes and others a few hours, she said.

Monk Parakeets, an invasive bird species, nest on electrical transformers, and the bird beds can ignite or overheat boxes, blog Sheepshead Bites reported.

But the area’s outdated electrical infrastructure is also to blame, a local pol said. Area transformers serve a disproportionately high number of homes, so when a outage occurs, larger swaths of the neighborhood go black — something the utility must remedy, the elected said.

“If one line goes down for whatever reason, too many households are attached, so if they increase the number of lines in the area it will affect fewer households if one goes down,” said Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island). “It’s just not acceptable with the frequency they were happening.”

The electric company recently fixed a faulty transformer and replaced some cables, and it will re-jigger the existing grid over the course of this year so fewer homes will lose power in future outages, Faber said.

Treyger suggested locals report outages, nests, balloons, and conspicuous-looking branches directly to Con Edison using its (800) CONED complaint line — or Treyger’s Coney Island office at (718) 307–7151 — instead of 311.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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