MASPETH, Queens — "I haven't lost power, thank God and knock on wood," said Maspeth resident Tina Tannacore as she crossed herself and knocked on her doorframe, "but it's been a little [challenging] the past few days."
She was referring to the lower voltage her neighborhood has had over the last few days. It's an intentional, five percent reduction in wattage, ordered by Con Edison in order for it to make repairs and upgrades to the electrical grid in the area.
The utility said that residents should hardly notice any change to the operation of their electronics, but residents like Edwin Juarbe said that they've noticed a difference in how well their air conditioners perform.
"They don't work as well all the time," he told PIX11 News. "We need more voltage."
The effect of the reduced voltage manifested itself at Tannacore's home with all of the blinds down and the lights off, keeping out the hot sun and keeping electricity to a minimum.
Apart from the air conditioner, which was successfully cooling off her first floor, Tannacore said that "the only thing on is the TV and refrigerator."
She keeps power use as low as possible, she said, until 7 p.m.
While her case is considered slightly extreme due to the reduced voltage in her neighborhood, Con Ed asks that all of its customers restrict electricity use during hot days like the ones the region is now experiencing, when the demand for electricity is at or near peak.
On Monday, Con Ed reported an expected maximum power load of 12,600 megawatts, enough to easily power more it's more than 3 million customers. The all time record peak was over 13,000 megawatts.
Over the weekend, which featured an Extreme Heat Warning, the electrical load reached a record peak for a weekend day: 11,800 megawatts.
With more people in the city during the week, particularly in office buildings that are largely empty on weekends, the demand was greater on Monday. It's expected to be so throughout what's forecasted to be a hot week.
Along with such conditions come challenges for both the utility and its customers alike, according to Con Ed.
"There always will be outages when you have 90 degrees with high humidity," said Con Ed spokesperson Philip O'Brien.
The key to preventing the outages from being more widespread, he said in an interview, has been for the utility giant to "spend a billion dollars each year in the last few years by upgrading" its electricity delivery systems. In exchange for that, he said, "We ask that New Yorkers to help us out, every little bit can help, by conserving."
Doing just that is Tannacore, who said that her efforts at conserving greatly beat the alternative.
"I remember the big blackout," she said, recalling when the lights went out for 55 million people in the northeast US and Canada. "This is better than that."
That major blackout was exactly 13 years ago Sunday.