In recognition of Consolidated Edison's (Con Edison) extraordinary recovery effort in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, the Edison Electric Institute selected that energy company for the industry's highest honor, the Edison Award.
After the twin towers collapsed, lower Manhattan was instantly transformed into a disaster zone, and much of Con Edison's infrastructure was destroyed, interrupting electric power and creating herculean safety and restoration tasks for the New York-based utility. As a result, Con Edison and its employees had to respond immediately to challenges that no other utility company in the United States has ever had to face.
EEI President Thomas R. Kuhn commended the utility and its employees for their "courageous response to the unparalleled destruction of the entire energy infrastructure of lower Manhattan. Con Edison moved into action within minutes of the first attack to ensure the safety of the public, to help police and firemen in the struggle to aid survivors, and then to restore electric and gas service in areas that had not been directly damaged."
Con Edison's emergency command center was activated immediately to provide overall direction and management of the company's response, and hundreds of field crews were dispatched to the World Trade Center area. Employees throughout the company worked 12-hour shifts for the duration of the emergency. Many field crews stayed on station for 16 hours, interrupting their work only to sleep or eat quick meals at their work sites - some did not go home for days.
Con Edison engineers and operations professionals developed a strategy for restoring energy service. Immediate restoration focused on re-energizing undamaged electrical systems, bypassing damaged electrical equipment, and deploying on-site generators. Because the loss of two substations required redesign of the lower Manhattan electric networks, existing ducts could not be used to restore service. In all, 36 miles of electric cable were run above ground or in shallow trenches. Eighty-two on-site generators were deployed, producing enough electricity to power a city the size of Albany. Many of these generators supported the New York Stock Exchange and its trading partners, enabling the NYSE to reopen on Sept. 17.
More than 1,900 Con Edison workers were active in the field and hundreds more supported them around the clock. Con Edison is still planning and carrying out repairs to the heavily damaged energy infrastructure, and expects to do so throughout the coming year.
"Recovering from such overwhelming challenges is worthy of a very special distinction," Kuhn said. "Con Edison's restoration efforts, which were accomplished under unparalleled conditions, are deserving of the highest praise that our industry can bestow."
Kuhn also paid tribute to Dick Morgan, a Con Edison employee who perished during the Sept. 11 attack. Morgan, who served as the utility's vice president of emergency management, had worked closely with New York City police, fire and other city officials during many city crises during a career that spanned four decades.
Kuhn noted that Morgan "was passionate about helping his fellow New Yorkers, and he made an enormous contribution to the life of his city. Those at Con Edison who knew him and worked with him mourn his passing and celebrate his memory."
Edison Electric Institute (EEI) is the association of United States investor-owned electric utilities and industry affiliates and associates worldwide.
edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])