Believe it or not, power outages are actually less frequent now in Marine Park — at least according to Con Edison.
The small-scale blackouts in the neighborhood, long a nuisance to many residents, are down significantly this year, according to the utility company.
“Seventeen outages have affected 3,287 customers in the area overall this year; the average duration was 1.58 hours,” said Con Ed spokesman Bob McGee. “This is approximately a 70-percent reduction to customer interruptions over the prior three years.”
People in Marine Park have complained of unexplained power outages over the past few years, particularly in the area around Quentin Road and Avenue R between E. 31st and E. 38th streets. Most recently, some people said they were experiencing frequent outages in November and December — a spike which McGee confirmed.
“We had a total of four small-scale outages in November and December that affected 107 customers,” said McGee.
He also explained the locations and causes:
• Nov. 1, E. 35th Street off of Avenue S, outage caused by squirrel contact.
• Nov. 9, E. 35th Street off of Avenue S, outage caused by a blown fuse.
• Nov. 20, E. 36th Street and Avenue T, outage caused by defective cable connection and burning fuse.
• Dec. 3, Flatbush Avenue north of Quentin Road, outage caused by defective cable connection and burning fuse.
McGee said Con Ed has made several improvements to its infrastructure in the area in 2016 as part of the Storm Hardening program they started after superstorm Sandy in 2012 — including a major restructuring of how it delivers power to the neighborhood.
Marine Park and Madison were previously in the same electricity system, but Con Ed created a separate system for Madison to help Marine Park meet its electricity needs and stop outages in Marine Park from spreading over large areas.
“In 2016, we split the Marine Park Loop with the creation of the new Madison Loop at a cost of around $11 million as part of our Storm Hardening program, which we started after superstorm Sandy,” said McGee.
These improvements, which sought to prepare the area for future storms, further included pole and cable upgrades, the installation of smart switches, and construction with more storm resistant materials, he said.
Con Ed also installed smart switches, which automatically stop outages from spreading beyond the area where the outage was caused, according to McGee.
McGee said lingering effects from Hurricane Sandy were not the cause of the higher outages in Marine Park, but could not immediately say what did cause them.
Marine Park is served by overhead electrical equipment, common in less densely populated areas, which makes the infrastructure easier to repair than underground equipment, but also more vulnerable to damage from the elements — including, but not limited to, “squirrel contact.”