Jan. 7, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
A hearing has been set by the City Council to go over last month’s Con Edison ‘explosion’ in Astoria that lit New York’s sky electric blue, with talks to also focus on moving toward a cleaner power grid.
The hearing will be held on Feb. 11 by the council’s environmental protection committee, which is headed by Council Member Costa Constantinides.
The hearing will discuss the equipment malfunction at the Con Edison substation by 31st Street and 20th Avenue that caused a massive electrical arc flash on the night of Dec. 27.
The arc flash (not an explosion, according to Con Edison) created the brilliant blue light that could be seen from as far as New Jersey and Long Island, and which has since been dubbed by some as the “Astoria Borealis.”
But the incident also temporarily paralyzed the city as much as it captivated it, with LaGuardia Airport, train lines, and power to nearby homes affected.
“The people of western Queens, and our entire city, deserve to know what exactly caused this startling phenomenon,” Constantinides said in a statement.
The hearing on what went wrong at the substation will also take the opportunity to discuss the gas-fired power plant where the substation is located. These types of plants, according to Constantinides and environmentalists, produce harmful emissions that contribute to global warming.
“The ‘Astoria Borealis’ only strengthens the need to make our electrical grid greener, relying less on the dangerous gas-fired power plants situated next to people’s homes,” he said.
Alternatives that will be explored include power plants fueled by natural resources, such as solar and wind powered plants.
Constantinides has requested the presence of Con Ed representatives at the hearing to provide information on the late December incident.
The hearing, titled “Oversight: The Astoria Transformer Explosion and the Transition to a Green Grid,” will be held at the City Council Chambers at 10 a.m. on Feb. 11.