COVID-19: NYC Quote of the Day 2020-05-17

Friday, May 15, 2020, NYC Mayor de Blasio - Our Summer Heat Plan

We have three goals for our summer heat plan. First, protect the health and safety of the most vulnerable. Second, give New Yorkers safe, positive cooling options. Third, prevent power outages and, God forbid, they happen, be able to respond to them quickly.

We're going to be providing free air conditioners to low-income seniors who need them. We're going to have 74,000 air conditioners in the first wave of this initiative, 22,000 of which will go to residents of public housing. We're going to be working with our colleagues at NYCHA public housing, at the Department for the Aging, our housing department, HPD, and the Human Resources Administration, and then we'll begin installations. Those installations will start next week. This is a $55 million investment and $20 million of it will come from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority NYSERDA. The remainder of the cost is an area of a public investment that is eligible for federal reimbursement. We want to make sure that we get those federal grants to offset the cost.

We also want to help lower income New Yorkers with summer utility bills. There are almost half a million New Yorkers who get a subsidy for their air conditioning needs from the New York State public service commission. We are petitioning the public service commission to double its current commitment and that would mean for the average customer $160 more, typically, to help them defray the costs and help them have the air conditioning they need. Some of this involves partnership with the State. New York State gets home energy funding from the Cares Act. We're going to reach out to the State and see if this is another area we can team up to magnify the amount of people we can reach.

A second goal, have a variety of safe cooling options in the summer for those who need them. We've always had cooling centers and they've been very, very much appreciated by people who needed a place to go, but they are going to have to be different now because of the realities of the coronavirus. We're going to be looking at a number of locations, particularly locations that are larger and allow for social distancing and we're going to be making sure they are places where seniors and folks who are vulnerable can go and be comfortable and have some things to do during those hot days. Some of the traditional cooling centers will work, but some won't. We're going to be looking at libraries, we're going to be looking at large community center gyms, sports venues, auditoriums, arenas, you name it places that will afford us some bigger open spaces that we can turn into cooling centers with social distancing, with the right use of PPEs and face coverings. And we want to make sure that there's something to do. If people are going to be there all day, especially if it's days in a row, we want to make sure there's programming and things for people to do, particularly if it's families coming in with kids, we want good things to keep those kids entertained, but that are also safe.

We're going to be focusing on a variety of ways to keep people hydrated. We know that some of the things that people traditionally do, the beaches and the public pools, that's not in the cards right now. Our Parks Department will create misting oasis I think that's a beautiful phrase misting oasis and spray showers. And there's a classic New York City option, opening up hydrants. And we're going to help New Yorkers hydrate, we're providing beverages, either by delivery or pickup, a lot more of the hydrating kinds of liquids, the Gatorades and the Pedialyte that will help people during this kind of crisis.

We have a real concern as we always do, in terms of preventing power outages. We know that the more people are using electricity, the more strain it puts on the electrical grid and that's a real challenge. This is going to be a strange summer. By every measure, we're going to see a lot less commercial activity. There's obviously not traditional tourism now, which is a big part of what happens in summer, there's no big events. And so, the things that often took up a lot of energy won't be there, the whole larger commercial reality, even though it may come back in small pieces, nothing like we would normally see in the summer. But on the other hand, a lot more people home, a lot more people using air conditioning. So, we have to be ready and we've been dealing with ConEd on this early to get ready and we've put new protocols in place with ConEd to see the warning signs earlier to predict problems earlier and take appropriate steps. There are a number of steps that can be taken if there is a danger of a blackout, or an outage looming. And we're going to make sure there's tight coordination with ConEd and a lot more communication between ConEd and all of its partners and government, but also with the people. A new approach is a situation room jointly between ConEd and our emergency management leadership. And the public always plays a role here because the public can make adjustments in the way people are using energy and that makes a big, big impact.

Last summer we saw some particular problems in Brooklyn and what's called the Flatbush network of ConEd. ConEd has replaced a lot of the equipment in that network, 70 power line sections replaced, updated the relay switches on 15 sections that supply the grid. Replaced more than half the rubber cable so far with the rest being done by the end of May. We right now have 60 portable generators ready for emergency deployment, we are going to add 22 more large generators that will be available to us for the summer months. We're going to preset pre-stage those around the City so they can be moved quickly to places that need them.

Also, we want to focus on nursing homes and adult care facilities. We need to make sure that every facility has a plan in place and is ready if there's ever an outage. And we're going to work with the State and certainly encourage the State to mandate that every one of these adult facilities and nursing homes has generator capacity ready to go in the event of a crisis.
Edited for redundancy, grammar, and emphasis
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