The Heat Is On, and So Are the Lights, Says Con Ed

NYC Braces For Longest Heat Waves In Four Years

Rita Concepcion has heard the forecast, and she's making plans.

"I'm going to sit in my bedroom and turn on the air conditioning," said the Canarsie resident.

But it's that philosophy that has the power company's workforce switching into overdrive -- getting ready for what could be record power usage next week.

"This is where the rubber meets the road for us," said John Miksad, Senior Vice President for Consolidated Edison. Miksad took NBCNewYork on a tour of the 12th floor Con Ed operations center in the East Village.

There, engineers and analysts are watching the power grid. Specially trained teams monitor the electricity being used by three million customers. There are 600 feeder cables to keep an eye on, in 64 sectors of power across the city.

Earlier this week, parts of Brooklyn experienced an eight percent loss of power, and that was before the most sweltering weather of the season has descended. The partial outage affected businesses along Nassau Avenue in Greenpoint, where deli owners in particular worried about their pirogis and meats, which are sold out of 220-volt coolers.

"I'm going to buy or rent a generator," said Ayman Qadr of the Polish American Deli, who had to discard some of his cold cuts on Monday. "Just in case."

The forecast calls for temperatures in the 90's for at least five days in a row. And it only takes three straight days above 90 to qualify as an official heat wave.

Still, Con Ed's Miksad believes the power grid will hold strong. Since a lengthy blackout crippled parts of Queens in 2006, the system has been strengthened, with backup cables added.

But as always, New Yorkers are urged to use wait until after hours to use appliances they don't absolutely need. For example, if you have an electric dishwasher, run it after 10pm, when demand drops.

Another tip designed to keep the electricity on: set thermostats no lower than 78 degrees.

That might sound a little steamy for some, but the power company says it can make the difference between getting through a heat wave-- and getting through it in the dark.

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