On Friday May 24th, most of Roosevelt Island experienced a power outage that lasted most of the day. The tram and subway continued working, but students at P.S. 217 had to be relocated to a church for the school day. Con Edison was able to restore power back to the entire Island by the next morning. The problem, according to Con Edison spokesperson Chris Olert, is that the Con Edison equipment under the 59th Street Bridge caught fire after an accident, and four of the five electrical feeders were out of commission – two were damaged in the fire, and two had been down for maintenance.
“The system was overloaded,” said Olvert. “If only two of our feeders had gone out, no one would have noticed the difference.”
The whole power outage was tweeted about all day. Joseph Strong, a representative from City Council candidate Ben Kallos’ office said that his team started giving out water to residents as soon as they heard about the power outage.
But just because Roosevelt Island was off the grid this Memorial Day weekend, does not mean this will be a regular occurrence, even when Cornell Tech’s new campus opens in 2017. In fact according to Jeff Prekopa, a member of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association, this has been the only major blackout in recent memory, besides the five days following Hurricane Sandy this past fall.
“I’ve been here for years, and these are the only power outages I can remember,” said Prekopa. “It’s actually pretty reliable here.”
Cornell Tech will obviously create a large upsurge in the power supply on Roosevelt Island, but Con Edison is not concerned.
“We will increase the service for Cornell Tech just as we would for any new business,” said Olvert. “We always want to accommodate new business.”