Governor Spitzer is using the first blackout of the summer to call for building more — and greener — power plants in New York to ensure that spikes in energy demand can be met in the future.
Asked if he has confidence in the Con Edison Company in light of Wednesday's outages on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and in the southwest Bronx, Mr. Spitzer said he is confident that necessary investments in the state's energy system will prepare it for heavy use and is pushing legislation to streamline the approval process for new power plants.
"This is a law that would permit us to site more power plants across the state," he said after moderating an education meeting at Borough of Manhattan Community College yesterday. "We need more energy. We need good, clean energy so we can push that through the grid and have the supply there to make sure that, as demand increases on a hot day because air conditioners are turned on, we are ready."
There is debate, however, about Mr. Spitzer's proposal, which has stalled in Albany. Opponents say it would place too-stringent environmental regulations on new power plants and should not exclude nuclear power plants from its fast-track approval system.
The chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, Jerry Kremer, said he supports the building of new power plants, but thinks Mr. Spitzer's proposal is overly restrictive.
"It has to be made a little bit more realistic for fossil-burning plants," he said. Wednesday's outage "points out how fragile the system is and why we need new sources that could come in other ways."
A spokesman for Con Edison, Chris Olert, said that although the specific cause of Wednesday's outage still is under investigation, it was not due to lack of energy.
Several hundred customers in Jamaica and South Ozone Park, Queens, were without power yesterday, but it was restored during the day for many, Mr. Olert said. Yesterday afternoon, approximately 5,000 customers in Middle Village, Queens, lost power due to storm damage, Mr. Olert said.
The director of the air and energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which supports Mr. Spitzer's plan, Ashok Gupta, said the city needs to invest in its energy distribution infrastructure and its energy supply.
"New power plants are very clean compared to old power plants," he said. "Good clean supply helps replace older, dirtier supply."