By William M. Dowd
A bulletin posted on the Times Union website at 6 p.m. Thursday:
“More than 2,000 National Grid customers are out of power while thunderstorms are raging through the Capital Region and other parts of upstate New York. In Schenectady County more than 1,000 are without power, most of them in Glenville and Rotterdam. Saratoga County has about 960 without power, many in Greenfield, according to National Grid.”
With all due respect to the newspaper, this is not news.
Repeat: This is not news.
Since Niagara Mohawk, the power company we used to love to hate, was absorbed by the global utility conglomerate known as National Grid, the Capital Region has endured a monotonous series of power failures seemingly every time it rains.
The one thing that seems to work all the time at National Grid is its public relations department. If it didn’t, we’d never utter the phrase “power outage” since “outage” is just a euphemism for “failure.”
National Grid is one big failure, or “outage,” at providing reliable power. During the height of summer it purposely cut power to much of the city of Troy without warning the city or anyone who lives in it. Not long after swallowing Niagara Mohawk it reduced staff and has been unable to maintain a respectable level of service. Tens of thousands of its business and residential customers have experienced upset, spoilage and discomfort from its frequent power failures.
I’m generally a believer in letting the market dictate the services we get, but this is one of those rare situations in which swift government intervention in the form of an investigation is warranted.
But don’t get your hopes up. We heard all sorts of dire pronouncements from politicians and bureaucrats this summer about making National Grid pay in some form for its intentional power cuts. Once the weather cooled off, so did the rhetoric.