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Power outage sparks concern in Coney - Infrastructure can’t support new development, says City Council candidate

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Last week’s blackout on Coney Island lasted only about an hour, but for New York City Council hopeful Brian Gotlieb, it should have been long enough to convince government of the dangers of pushing forward with unsupported new development.

“This brings home what I’ve been saying all along,” Gotlieb told the Bay News. “Out of all the plans now out there, not one is saying how they’re going to power what they’re going to build.”

The blackout occurred on the western tip of Coney Island at about 9:29 a.m. on September 2 when two power feeders inexplicably blew out. According to Con Edison, 7,000 customers in Coney Island were affected. Most had their power restored by 10:30 a.m.

Residents of the nearby Warbasse Houses also had to contend with their own short power outages last week.

Spokesperson Chris Olert said that citywide, Con Edison has experienced “record usage” this summer.

Last year, the utility delivered more power to New York City and Westchester County than it has ever before. In 2007, New York City and Westchester County consumed more electricity than both the entire state of Colorado and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts consumed in 2006.

According to Con Edison, peak summertime usage has been growing annually by about 200 megawatts, or the equivalent of powering an additional 200,000 homes per year.

Officials attribute that increased usage on new construction and the rising popularity of electronic devices like flat-screen televisions and video games.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation’s rezoning and redevelopment plan for Coney Island calls for some 5,000 new units of housing in addition to creating a multi-million-dollar year-round amusement park.

“This is just another example of the short sightedness of the development plans that are currently out there,” Gotlieb said. “At the end of the day, if you can’t power them, what good are they?”

EDC President Lynn Kelly said that a study of Coney Island’s infrastructure and potential environmental impacts is underway.

“The completed scope of work will encompass specific details but the infrastructure in Coney will be enhanced to accommodate any growth brought about by the development,” she said.

“There has been no consideration, no allocation and no though into the resources for the people who live outside the development area,” Gotlieb insisted. “The community has been waiting years for plans to be put together. Residents in this part of Brooklyn have waited long enough.”

Olert said that Con Edison is always reevaluating its system to see if there are areas that need to be “re-enforced.”

Utilizing renewable energy resources like wind and solar power could relieve some of the burden on Con Edison’s heavily-taxed system, but Gotlieb complains that the city has thus far only provided lip-service to the idea.

“The only response I’ve been given is, ‘we’ll talk about it,’ and ‘we’ll put it in,’” Gotlieb complained. “I haven’t seen anything. If not now, when? No matter what type of alternative energy source you use, you need to be proactive. It’s not just going to fall into your lap.”

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