Lights Out, For Just a Second

Did your power go out on Sunday night? For the UWS it was a quick blip and everything went back on, but the subway system wasn’t so lucky and some riders got stuck.

The outage was caused by dip in voltage on the grid. “In New York City, electricity courses through a network of high-voltage transmission feeders, substations and lower-voltage distribution feeders on its way to powering homes and businesses. Transmission feeders carry electricity in bulk, much as the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway carries vehicles en masse. It was that sort of feeder, running underground in Long Island City, Queens, that failed at approximately 8:25 p.m. on Sunday, causing a manhole fire and a momentary dip in voltage across all five boroughs of New York City and Westchester,” explained the New York Times.

Con Ed has systems in place to compensate for voltage dips. The dips and surges usually get corrected before people notice there is an issue.


“It was pretty obvious to us that we had a power outage,” said Rosane, who is visiting the UWS and was at her family’s apartment around 8:20pm on Sunday night. “I heard all the appliances shut off and turn back on.”

Pictures and videos were posted of an explosion across the East River, but Con Ed has not confirmed if that had anything to do with the fire that caused the outage. Another video was posted showing smoke coming from the Con Ed Queens location, but it was also not confirmed if that was in relation to the outage.

Thankfully, the UWS was spared any serious outages or damage. The 550 passengers that were stuck on the subways were not so lucky. Governor Hochul said in a statement that “the MTA has uncovered a sequence of failures that resulted in some backup systems not providing power as designed last night, including an additional failure to quickly diagnose the underlying cause.” She has ordered an investigation to figure out what happened and wants to make sure it does not happen again.

“Having suffered through longer outages, it’s my hope that they can figure out what went wrong and prevent it from getting worse or happening again,” said UWS resident Margo.

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