* Con Ed reduces voltage in Brooklyn neighborhoods
* Company locked out union workers on Sunday
* Heat wave to bake New York through weekend
By Scott DiSavino
NEW YORK, July 5 Locked out workers resumed
negotiations with Consolidated Edison on Thursday while
replacement crews worked to end additional brownouts as New York
City sweltered in a prolonged heat wave.
Con Edison said it reduced the voltage by 5 percent in
several Brooklyn neighborhoods Wednesday night as a precaution
to protect the system and maintain service as crews fix
equipment problems, the company said in a statement.
On Thursday afternoon, the company expanded the voltage
reductions to several other Brooklyn neighborhoods to reduce the
strain on the grid as crews work on equipment problems in those
High temperatures in New York, the biggest metropolitan area
in the United States, were expected to reach the 90s Fahrenheit
(32 Celsius) through the end of the weekend, according to
The latest series of voltage reductions was the first since
the company locked out its 8,500-member unionized workers on
Sunday after contract talks broke down.
The company and the union were talking again on Thursday in
a negotiating session that started at about noon. Officials at
the company and union could not say anything about the session
since it was ongoing.
Con Edison said the voltage reductions had nothing to do
with the lockout, noting the company had also reduced voltage
during a heat wave in June, before the lockout started, after
heavy air conditioning usage strained the grid in parts of
Brooklyn and Queens.
The union, however, said the voltage reductions were a sign
that Con Edison could not keep the system running without the
"This is what we have been saying all along, that the
company would run into these problems when the weather heats up.
They needed to reduce voltage because they could not keep the
system up," John Melia, a union spokesman, said.
"This is an extremely dangerous situation for the people of
New York," Melia said, noting that replacement workers were
getting hurt due to a lack of experience.
The company said a couple of replacement workers had
suffered minor burns, but noted the crews in the field were
qualified to do the work.
"Many of the managers out in the field came up through the
union and did the kind of work needed to maintain the system in
the past," Con Edison spokeswoman Sara Banda told Reuters.
OK TO USE AIR CONDITIONER
So far, these voltage reductions were relatively minor.
The company did not ask the homes and businesses in the
affected Brooklyn neighborhoods to take any special measures,
noting it was O.K to use air conditioning and other appliances.
But the utility continued to ask all its 3.2 million
customers in New York City and Westchester County to continue to
conserve energy during the heat wave.
Customers don't lose power in a voltage reduction, but
incandescent lights, hot water heaters and some motors are
The company did not give details on the equipment repairs
being conducted by crews, largely made up of Con Ed managers.