Independent generators like Astoria Energy build plants to meet demand because they face competitive pressure: if one company doesn’t build a plant, another will. But Con Ed, a monopoly, has no competitive pressure to distribute power more efficiently.
Since Con Ed is a monopoly, state regulators supervise it: the company depends on regulators to allow it to pass the cost of network upgrades to customers. But regulators aren’t solely interested in performance during peak usage; they’re also interested in keeping rates low.
It thus falls to Mayor Michael Bloomberg to see that Con Ed’s planned investments in upgrading its system — $5.3 billion over three years — are enough and that equipment isn’t too old or inadequate, as it was in Queens this year and in Washington Heights seven summers ago. When Con Ed and the state fail, New York City suffers.
Original Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/30/opinion/nyregionopinions/30CIgelinas.html?_r=4&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin