Who turned off the lights?
Residents of Marine Park complain that their neighborhood is suffering repeated, unexplained power outages and no one seems to know why — or what to do about it.
“It does happen here frequently, and there’s no control over it,” said Marine Park resident Robin Sherman-Epstein.
Common explanations for power outages — such as overloaded circuits during heat waves when everyone is running air conditioners — don’t seem to apply.
“Where else in the city do you get power outages in the middle of the winter?” said Sherman-Epstein. “Here we do.”
The last prolonged outage was about a month ago, according to Sherman-Epstein, and a power surge briefly interrupted power just last week.
“I had to go around and change all my clocks,” she said on the surge.
The problem appears to be around Quentin Road and Avenue R between E. 31st and E. 38th streets according to the local councilman, who said he gets regular calls complaining about the strange outages.
“Some areas are prone to outage, I think north of Quentin Road” said Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park). “Nobody has called this week, but it’s been a problem plaguing us for a long time, certainly the past couple of years.”
The outages have local social media all abuzz. Marine Park resident Barbara Wagner says she has seen Facebook posts recently from people lamenting outages in the area of Quentin Road, Avenue R, Fillmore Avenue and 35th and 36th streets.
Residents speculate that transformer blowouts might explain the frequent outages — but are at a loss to explain why there would be frequent blowouts.
“We do blow transformers,” said Sherman-Epstein. “We had an explosion in the last month or two and got a call from Con Edison saying they’re working on it.”
For its part, Con Edison says there are no particular problems with their equipment in the area.
“There are no specific issues or anomalies regarding equipment in Marine Park,” said Con Edison spokesman Bob McGee.
Marine Park is served by overhead electrical equipment which is more common in less densely populated areas. Outages in such areas can occur due to damage to the equipment brought on by difficult weather, tree branches, and traffic accidents — even bird nests and mylar balloons. Con Edison has 3,947 miles of overhead wires and 3,515 overhead transformers across Brooklyn, versus 28,805 miles of underground cable and 6,574 underground transformers in the borough, according to McGee.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both overhead and underground equipment, according to McGee. Overhead equipment is more susceptible to the elements, he said, but can also be repaired quickly.
And Con Edison does seem to be doing a lot of repairs in Marine Park this year.
“They’ve been working in the 30s and on Fillmore since the summer,” said Bob Tracey, president of the Marine Park Civic Association.