Preliminary information shows that there was a transmission line between two power stations that failed, which caused four other power stations to go offline. The Manhattan blackout Saturday impacted up to 72,000 people.
(TNS) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer are calling on state and federal agencies to investigate what led to the midtown Manhattan blackout Saturday that impacted up to 72,000 people.
Cuomo toured the substation where the outage was based with Con Edison Chairman John MacAvoy late Saturday night. The governor praised first responders and citizens who helped during the crisis.
ConEd said Sunday it did not know yet what caused the outage, one of the largest in the city in more than a decade.
"While this situation was luckily contained, the fact that it happened at all is unacceptable," Cuomo said in an issued statement. "I have directed the PSC (Public Service Commission) to do a full and thorough investigation into the cause of tonight's blackout and we will hold all parties accountable in ensuring this does not happen again."
During a press conference in New York City Sunday that was posted on YouTube by CBS New York, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer also called on the federal Department of Energy to investigate. He praised Con Edison for restoring power quickly, but said the standard should be for no power failures to occur.
Power went out starting at 6:47 p.m. Saturday, and was restored for most customers by 11:30 p.m. The city fire department said the outage seemed to run from 72nd Street to the West 40s north to south, and then from Fifth Avenue to the Hudson River west to east, according to reporting by the New York Times.
During a press conference Sunday afternoon that was posted live on Twitter by Mayor Bill de Blasio's office, New York City officials said there were 400 people who had to be rescued from disabled elevators. There were darkened traffic lights, and impacted hospitals had alternative generator systems that appeared to work properly, Schumer said.
Schumer said he was told there were no injuries associated with the outage. Preliminary information indicates that there was a transmission line between two power stations that failed, which caused four other power stations to go offline. A ConEd official at de Blasio's press conference said the power company is still investigating the outage's cause, but a cyber or physical attack has been ruled out. Also, there was not a huge demand on the system Saturday night as temperatures were warm, but not part of a heat wave.
Schumer said Sunday he was updated by de Blasio, who was stuck in Chicago overnight after attempting to get back from presidential campaigning in Iowa. Reporters at the Sunday press conference asked numerous questions about the mayor's absence during the outage. De Blasio said he had to drive four hours from his location to an airport, and then could not get a flight back home in time Saturday night.
"As someone who travels, as I have done before this campaign, you have to be in charge wherever you are," the mayor said.
Saturday's outage happened on the 42nd anniversary of the 1977 New York City blackout, which impacted most of the five boroughs and led to looting and arson. That blackout was caused by a substation being struck by lightning.
The outage Saturday impacted midtown Manhattan and part of the Upper West Side. Cuomo's office said at its peak, the number of customers without power reached approximately 72,000, and subway service was disrupted on five lines.
"ConEd has improved, but they still have to do a lot more," Schumer said, noting the 2006 Queens blackout, which took more than a week to resolve. "It was fixed in a relatively short amount of time. On the other hand, it shouldn't have happened at all."
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