New York electric company Con Edison enacted more brownouts in New York on Wednesday amid the heat wave that has put pressure on much of the electricity infrastructure in the country. Unlike the rolling blackouts seen in Texas in 2011, the approach of the New York utility is to reduce voltage to Manhattan resulting in a so called “brownout.” This results in dimmer lights and other side effects, but doesn’t directly result in a loss of power for customers.
The city is currently baking in temperatures in the mid to upper 90’s, pushing electricity usage near the records the city saw last summer. For Wednesday, the company is forecasting usage of 12,455 megawatts. July of 2011 saw the city reach 13,189 MW. The company is also calling on residents to be prudent in their use of electricity; though, there are no calls to turn off air conditioners.
The brownouts come at a time when Con Ed is battling with its union workers. The company, which says the brownouts are not related to the labor problems, recently locked out around 8,000 works as part of the labor dispute. The union has complained to the Public Service Commission of New York asking that the utility be forced to rescind the lockout. The union charges that Con Ed has violated regulatory rules in the labor dispute.
A wave of thunderstorms is expected tomorrow which should bring temperatures back down to seasonal norms, taking some of the pressure off the electric grid for now.
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