Consolidated Edison, Inc., commonly known as Con Edison or Con Ed, is one of the largest investor-ownedenergy companies in the United States, with approximately $12 billion in annual revenues as of 2017, and over $48 billion in assets. The company provides a wide range of energy-related products and services to its customers through its subsidiaries:
Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc., a regulated utility serving customers in a 1,300-square-mile (3,400 km2) area in southeastern New York and northern New Jersey;
Con Edison Solutions, an energy services company;
Con Edison Energy, a wholesale energy services company;
Con Edison Development, a company that owns and operates renewable and energy infrastructure projects, and,
Con Edison Transmission, Inc., which invests in electric and natural gas transmission projects.
In 2015, electric revenues accounted for 70.35% of consolidated sales (70.55% in 2014); gas revenues 13.61% (14.96% in 2014); steam revenues 5.01% (4.86% in 2014); and non-utility revenues of 11.02% (9.63 in 2014%).
As well as gas and electricity, Con Ed supplies steam to New York City
In 1823, Con Edison's earliest corporate predecessor, the New York Gas Light Company, was founded by a consortium of New York City investors. A year later, it was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Due to the Board of Aldermen's authority to grant franchises in the City of New York in the early to mid 1800s, interaction with Tammany Hall was required to expand business. By William M. Tweed's reign in the late 1860s as the Boss of Tammany Hall, the power to authorize franchises lay with the County Board of Supervisors, of which Tweed had been a member. By 1871, Tweed was a member of the board of the Harlem Gas Light Company, a precursor to the Consolidated Edison Company. In 1884, six gas companies combined into the Consolidated Gas Company.
The New York Steam Company began providing service in lower Manhattan in 1882. Today, Con Edison operates the largest commercial steam system in the world, providing steam service to nearly 1,600 commercial and residential establishments in Manhattan from Battery Park to 96th Street.
Con Edison's electric business also dates back to 1882, when Thomas Edison’s Edison Illuminating Company of New York began supplying electricity to 59 customers in a square-mile area in lower Manhattan. After the “War of Currents”, there were more than 30 companies generating and distributing electricity in New York City and Westchester County. But by 1920 there were far fewer, and the New York Edison Company (then part of Consolidated Gas) was clearly the leader.
In 1936, with electric sales far outstripping gas sales, the company incorporated and the name was changed to Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. The years that followed brought further amalgamations as Consolidated Edison acquired or merged with more than a dozen companies between 1936 and 1960. Con Edison today is the result of acquisitions, dissolutions and mergers of more than 170 individual electric, gas and steam companies.
Consolidated Edison acquired land on the Hudson River in Buchanan, NY, in 1954 for the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The first reactor (Indian Point 1) began generating power on September 16, 1962. The reactor was shut down on October 31, 1974, because the emergency core cooling system did not meet regulatory requirements. The company built two more reactors at Indian Point during the 1970s: Indian Point 2 and 3. Indian Point 3 was sold to the New York Power Authority in 1975.Entergy acquired Indian Point 2 in November 2000, nine months after a steam generator leak. With the sale of Indian Point 2, the last power plant it owned, Consolidated Edison, Inc. became primarily an energy distributor.
On January 1, 1998, following the deregulation of the utility industry in New York state, a holding company, Consolidated Edison, Inc., was formed. It is one of the nation's largest investor-owned energy companies, with approximately $13 billion in annual revenues and $47 billion in assets. The company provides a wide range of energy-related products and services to its customers through two regulated utility subsidiaries and three competitive energy businesses. Under a number of corporate names, the company has been traded on the NYSE without interruption since 1824—longer than any other NYSE stock. Its largest subsidiary, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. provides electric, gas and steam service to more than 3 million customers in New York City and Westchester County, New York, an area of 660 square miles (1,700 km2) with a population of nearly 9 million. Also in 1998, Consolidated Edison, Inc. acquired Orange & Rockland Utilities, which is operated separately.
To date, Con Edison has invested $3 billion in solar and wind projects. In September 2017 it was announced that the company would invest $1.25 billion in “renewable energy production facilities over the next three years.”
The company's “renewable portfolio” contains more than 1.5 gigawatts of operating capacity. Seventy-five percent of that capacity comes from solar energy. Clean energy accounts for around eight percent of the company's earnings, as of fall 2017.
To support electric vehicles, Con Edison partnered with the company FleetCarma to provide $500 in rewards to owners of electric vehicles in New York City and Westchester County, New York. Through this program, Con Edison pays customers to charge their vehicles when energy demand is low.
The Con Edison electrical transmission system utilizes voltages of 138 kilovolts (kV), 345 kV, and 500 kV. The company has two 345 kV interconnections with upstate New York that enable it to import power from Hydro-Québec in Canada and one 345 kV interconnection each with Public Service Electric and Gas in New Jersey and LIPA on Long Island. Con Edison is also interconnected with Public Service Electric and Gas via the Branchburg-Ramapo 500 kV line. Con Ed's distribution voltages are 33 kV, 27 kV, 13 kV, and 4 kV.
The 93,000 miles (150,000 km) of underground cable in the Con Edison system could wrap around the Earth 3.6 times. Nearly 36,000 miles (58,000 km) of overhead electric wires complement the underground system—enough cable to stretch between New York and Los Angeles 13 times.
The Con Edison gas system has nearly 7,200 miles (11,600 km) of pipes—if laid end to end, long enough to reach Paris and back to New York City, and serves Westchester County, the Bronx, Manhattan and parts of Queens. Gas service in Brooklyn, Staten Island and the rest of Queens is provided by National Grid USA's New York City operations, with the exception of the Rockaway peninsula, which is serviced by National Grid's Long Island operations. The average volume of gas that travels through Con Edison's gas system annually could fill the Empire State Building nearly 6,100 times.
ConEd offers a variety of programs and resources for its customers and stakeholders, organized in such categories as, "For Renters", "For Residential Owners", "For Small & Medium Businesses", "For Commercial & Industrial", "Business Partners", "Investors", "Community Affairs", and "Municipalities". Examples of such resources include:
CONCERN Program, which offers eligible customers a specially trained representative and advice about government aid programs, safety tips, and ways to save money on one's energy bill
Quarterly Billing Plan, which allows senior citizens, whose Con Edison bills are less than $420 a year, to receive bills once every three months (in March, June, September, and December), rather than once a month
1977: All of New York City, with the exception of the Rockaways – which get their power from the Long Island Lighting Company (LILCo) – was blacked out overnight on July 13 and 14, due to lightning strikes on a number of sub-stations and the resulting failures of interconnects in the power grid.
1989: A steam pipe explosion in Gramercy Park killed three, injured 24, and required the evacuation of a damaged apartment building due to high levels of asbestos in the air. Workers had failed to drain water from the pipe before turning the steam on. The utility also eventually pleaded guilty to lying about the absence of asbestos contamination, and paid a $2 million fine.
2007: The day before Thanksgiving, an explosion critically burned Queens resident Kunta Oza when an 80-year-old cast iron gas main ruptured. Oza died on Thanksgiving Day, and her family later settled with Con Edison for $3.75 million.
2009: Another gas explosion claimed a life in Queens while Con Edison personnel were on the scene. There was a leak in a manhole and a fault in an electrical feeder at the same time. The fault in the feeder caused the explosion due to the sparks being generated. When the mechanic opened the manhole more oxygen entered and the explosion took place. Due to that event, Con Edison has changed its procedure on outside gas leak calls.
On October 29, flooding from Hurricane Sandy caused a transformer explosion at a Con-Ed plant on New York City's East Side.
During the storm, Con Edison used social media to get outage and restoration information out to customers. The company's Twitter account gained an extra 16,000 followers during the storm.
Con Edison's subsidiary, Orange & Rockland Utilities, was criticized for its response to Hurricane Sandy. Some customers experienced a loss of electrical power for 11 days.
2018: After 9 p.m. on December 27, a transformer short-circuit at a ConEd power plant in Astoria, Queens shut down La Guardia Airport for several hours – until it switched to back-up generators – caused extensive delays on the #7 subway line, and an outage on Rikers Island, until it, too, reverted to back-up equipment. The incident caused a large portion of the sky in the surrounding area to be lit up by blue light that was caused by arc flashes, in which light-emitting atoms of excited gas, called plasma, are projected into the air. The arc flashes probably lasted only a few minutes, but because of meteorological conditions which caused them to be refracted, they were seen across a large portion of the New York City metropolitan area. There was no explosion or fire connected to the electrical surge, and no reported injuries. The New York Police Department reported that 911 calls increased from 500 in the half-hour before the event to over 3,200 in the 30 minutes afterwards.ConEd is investigating the cause of the surge in equipment that was intended to monitor voltage in the electrical sub-station, but suspects that the problem was a malfunctioning of its relay system. The lights were nicknamed the "Astoria Borealis" on Twitter.
2019: On the night of July 13 a significant portion of Manhattan saw a blackout due to a Consolidated Edison cable that burnt out in a transformer on West End Avenue. The blackout, which lasted for about three hours, shut down a number of subway stations, much of the West Side from the 40s to 72nd Street, parts of Times Square and Rockefeller Center, and other areas, resulting in an estimated 73,000 customers losing power. The outage fell on the anniversary of the 1977 blackout which most of the city lost power.
On January 14, 2009, eleven Con Edison supervisors were arrested for demanding more than $1 million in kickbacks related to work done by a construction company that was repairing the midtown steam pipe eruption of 2007. According to federal prosecutors, the employees had approved payment for work that was unnecessary or not performed, and promised faster payment for some work performed by the construction company in exchange for the bribes. The FBI had two retired Con Edison employees and the president of the construction company wear recording devices that recorded the suspects demanding bribes of between $1000 to $5000. Later that year Con Edison sued Brendan Maher, one of the construction supervisors who was arrested and later admitted taking bribes that the utility company claimed amounted to $10,000.
In April 2016, Con Edison agreed to pay over $171 million, about 1.5% of its annual revenue, back to its customers in compensation for harm resulting from the bribery. The Public Service Commission had found that Con Edison failed to supervise the employees. Con Edison admitted no wrongdoing.
Honors and criticism
In March 2002, Fortune magazine named the company as one of "America's Most Admired Companies" in the publication's newest corporate ranking survey. In 2003, Con Edison ranked second on the top ten list for electric and gas utilities.
In December 2011, the non-partisan organization Public Campaign released a report criticizing ConEd for spending $1.8 million on lobbying and not paying any taxes during 2008–2010, instead getting $127 million in tax rebates, despite making a profit of $4.2 billion, and increasing executive pay by 82% to $17.4 million in 2010 for its top five executives.
In 2014, Con Edison was named the #1 utility and #16 overall among corporations, in Newsweek's Green Rankings, and one of the 50 best companies for Latinas by Latina Style Magazine. In its "Best of the Best" issue in 2015, Hispanic Network Magazine named the company a top employer among energy, gas, and oil companies. Con Edison was also selected as one of the top regional utilities by DiversityInc magazine in 2014. In 2016, the company was listed among America's best large employers by Forbes.
A former Con Edison building on West 53rd Street in Manhattan was converted first into the studio for the television game show Let's Make a Deal, and later into a recording studio called "The Power Station" because of its Edison history. In 1996, the studio was renamed Avatar Studios.
^"'A Tale of Two Cities – New York' – The New York City Steam System". International District Energy Association. Retrieved January 9, 2008. With district steam service commencing in 1882, Con Edison owns and operates the largest downtown steam system in the world, serving over 1600 buildings with steam supplied from multiple combined heat and power facilities with total capacity of 21,755 (Mlbs/hr) and 627 MW. In 1999, Con Ed completed the ten-year Steam Enhancement program investing over $200 million in system upgrades and maintenance.[permanent dead link]
^"Electric System". Con Edison. Archived from the original on January 25, 2008. Retrieved January 9, 2008. Con Edison operates one of the most complex electric power systems in the world. It is also the world's most reliable.
^"Gas System". Con Edison. Archived from the original on February 22, 2008. Retrieved January 9, 2008. Con Edison distributes natural gas to 1.1 million customers in Manhattan, the Bronx, and portions of Queens and Westchester County, making us one of the larger gas distribution companies in the United States.
^Bevelhymer, Carl. "Steam". Gotham Gazette. Archived from the original on August 13, 2007. Retrieved January 9, 2008. When John Velez, co-owner of Sutton Cleaners, arrives at work at 7 a.m. on Manhattan's East Side, he opens a steam valve in the back of his shop. 'When I come into the shop in the morning, it's one, two, three,' he says, 'and you're up and running in less than a minute.'
^"Steam System". Con Edison. Archived from the original on August 21, 2007. The New York Steam Company began providing service in lower Manhattan in 1882. Today, Con Edison operates the largest steam system in the world. The system contains approximately 105 miles (169 km) of mains and service pipes and 3,000 steam manholes. Steam is provided from seven Con Edison steam-generating plants, five in Manhattan, one in Queens, and one in Brooklyn, along with receiving steam under contract from a steam plant at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
^Pitt, David E (August 24, 1989). "Evacuation For Asbestos Near Blast Site". The New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2008. More than 200 residents of a Gramercy Park apartment building that was heavily damaged in a steam-pipe explosion over the weekend were ordered from their homes last night after tests showed what a Consolidated Edison official called "extremely high" levels of asbestos fibers throughout the building.
^Chan, Sewell (March 4, 2006). "Con Ed Finds 1,214 Stray Voltage Sites in One Year". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 8, 2008. Retrieved January 9, 2008. Consolidated Edison, responding to testing requirements imposed after a woman was electrocuted while walking her dog in the East Village in 2004, found 1,214 instances of stray voltage during a yearlong examination of electrical equipment on city streets, officials disclosed at a City Council hearing yesterday.
^"STEAM REPORT: BUBBLE COLLAPSE WATERHAMMER CAUSED LEXINGTON AVENUE INCIDENT". Con Edison. Archived from the original on February 22, 2008. Retrieved January 9, 2008. The steam pipe rupture at Lexington Avenue and East 41 Street on July 18 was caused by a bubble-collapse water hammer that generated a momentary force against the pipe's wall that was more than seven times greater than the pipe's normal operating pressure, according to reports issued today by two independent experts commissioned by Con Edison. The pipe itself was found to be in good condition and did not contribute to the event.