Con Ed explains how they battle heat amid call for energy conservation in Manhattan

New York (WABC) -- When the temperatures and humidity crank up, so do the ACs across the region, dialing up the pressure on Con Ed to keep the system humming during a heat wave.

Indeed, Tuesday night, Con Ed asked customers in parts of Manhattan and Queens to conserve power while crews repair equipment. Con Edison said it has reduced voltage by 5 percent in the area to protect equipment and maintain service.

One area is bounded by East 111th Street on the north, East 77th Street on the south, the East River on the east, and Fifth Avenue on the west. The area includes 78,200 customers in the Upper East Side, Yorkville, East Harlem and Carnegie Hill neighborhoods, Con Ed said.

The western Queens area is bounded by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and 51st Avenue on the north, the Jackie Robinson Parkway on the south, Queens Boulevard on the east, and the Brooklyn borough line on the west. It includes 115,000 customers in the neighborhoods of Glendale, Forest Hills, Forest Hills Gardens and Middle Village area.

The area on the West Side of Manhattan is bounded on West 111th Street, West 71st Street on the south, Central Park West on the east, and the Hudson River on the west and includes 77,000 customers in the Upper West Side and Manhattan Valley neighborhoods.

Such efforts are part of how Con Ed works to keep the lights on when the mercury soars.

Con Edison spokesman Allan Drury explained to WABC meteorologist Jeff Smith on Tuesday how the electrical grid works, what happens to it during heat waves and how it can be overtaxed.

The Tri-State area is roasting through an early summer heat wave, and the second one this month at that, with high heat and oppressive humidity.

"We expect scattered outages. During an event this intense, scattered outages are inevitable. But my job is to respond to those outages as professionally and efficiently as possible and get customers back into service. And that's what we've been doing for the past 48 hours or so," Drury said.

Drury explains that when the system gets overtaxed, the power lines literally get hot, causing smoke and problems in manholes that can lead to power outages.

Since the beginning of this latest heat wave on Sunday, Con Ed has seen about 11,000 customers lose service.

"But we've been able to get them back into service quickly. Our job when outages do occur is to keep them geographically confined and short in duration. And we've been able to do that," Drury said.

Watch Jeff's complete video with Drury for an in-depth look at how the system works and what Con Edison has to do to keep the juice flowing, and what you can do to keep your bills down.
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.