How Reliable Is New York City’s Power System?


Looking up at New York City’s more than 6000 high-rise buildings and skyscrapers can make understanding the scope of one of the world’s largest cities staggering. You can create a similar effect by thinking about the electrical system powering all those buildings. Consisting of over 200 enmeshed networks, the system stretches over 660 square miles and houses almost 130,000 miles of cable – more than half the distance from the city to the moon. Manhattan’s 39 networks alone could supply enough cable to go around the world. As the country’s densest population, the impact of a power outage is grave. Elevators, subway trains, streetlights – the importance of power in New York City is magnified. Large scale blackouts in New York city cost an estimated $36 million per hour. How safe is the system from potential dangers? How likely are these dangers to appear, and what can be done to shield the city from their negative effects? Let’s explore the New York City electrical grid to understand just how reliable it may or may not be.


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