Upper West Side residents claim Con Edison owes them money after food spoils in power outage

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UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — It all comes down to one question: what time did Con Edison restore the power to the Broadmoor Apartments on June 4?

The previous night, a Con Ed underground transformer exploded outside a 17-floor building on West 102nd Street. The resulting electrical fire took hours to extinguish and power was knocked out to all 400 apartments. It was not restored until the following day.

“We lost everything in our refrigerator, weeks worth of groceries including things in our freezer,” said Patrick Dawson, who lives at the Broadmoor with his husband and two cats.

He filed a claim with Con Ed for just over $400 for spoiled food, documenting each item with pictures and receipts from Fresh Direct.

Con Edison rejected his claim, explaining that its rules require the power be out for at least 12 hours to qualify for food spoilage reimbursement.

The utility says power was restored at 10:53 a.m. Sunday. But an email from the Broadmoor’s manager two hours later, at 12:47 p.m., says, “Con Ed is slowly testing bringing power back online.”

Dawson said “that to me shows they were trying to manipulate the system to make it look like it was less than 12 hours so they could avoid paying for groceries for everyone in the building.”

Dawson contacted What a Shame. We contacted Con Ed and in less than a day, the utility reversed its decision.

“We reviewed our records and discovered an error in the time the power was restored,” a Con Ed spokesman said. “We determined the customer is entitled to a full reimbursement for the food lost."

While Dawson is glad to get the money, he is also critical of Con Ed’s 12-hour rule. He’s an infectious disease epidemiologist and said the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that after just four hours without power, most perishable food should be discarded.

“It’s dangerous,” he said. "There’s things like salmonella, E. coli, listeria -- all of these bacteria can grow after just a few hours of being 40 degrees Fahrenheit or more."

Con Ed released the following statement to PIX11 News:

"Con Edison is the only utility in New York State required to provide compensation in these circumstances. Twelve hours is the regulatory threshold for triggering that compensation."

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