Below is a resolution passed on Tuesday night by the Westchester County Board of Legislators (16-1 Bipartisan Vote). I was proud to be a sponsor of this resolution. Since the State of New York is responsible for regulating utility companies, we felt it was important for our Board to speak out for the residents of Westchester and identify areas that must be addressed by our leaders in the New York State government, and in particular the NYS Public Service Commission.
WHEREAS, Consolidated Edison ("Con Ed") & New York State Electric & Gas ("NYSEG") are the two electrical utilities providing power to Westchester County residents and businesses;
WHEREAS, Con Ed serves 348,198 Westchester County customers and NYSEG 32,528 Westchester County customers; and
WHEREAS, these companies operate without much competition, leaving customers little alternative for obtaining electricity elsewhere; and
WHEREAS, Hurricane Sandy hit Westchester on the 29th and 30 of October 2012, causing widespread power outages in Westchester County; and
WHEREAS, Con Ed and NYSEG did not adequately plan and provide sufficient resources to deal with Sandy's aftermath in a timely fashion; and
WHEREAS, Con Ed and NYSEG did not have adequate permanent staff in affected areas to handle widespread emergencies caused by storms like Sandy; and
WHEREAS, Con Ed and NYSEG did not institutionalize and implement lessons learned from Hurricane Irene and other past storms; and
WHEREAS, Con Ed and NYSEG failed to provide 'make safe' crews to every municipality in a timely way, to allow local highway crews to clear roadways, thereby causing prolonged blockages to primary, secondary & tertiary roadways. This failure imperiled lives and safety efforts, and hampered first responders' ability to deal with calls in a timely way; and
WHEREAS, Con Ed and NYSEG failed to address local critical infrastructure restoration needs in a timely way; and
WHEREAS, Con Ed and NYSEG failed to adequately communicate with elected officials and customers regarding restoration efforts; and
WHEREAS, Con Ed and NYSEG provided incorrect or misleading information to customers regarding outages and restoration times; and
WHEREAS, Con Ed and NYSEG's failure to restore power in a timely way threatened the health, safety and well being of Westchester residents, especially seniors, the frail, the ill or infirm, and the very young; and
WHEREAS, Con Ed and NYSEG have failed to restore every customer as of the introduction of this Resolution; and
WHEREAS, previous NYSPSC investigations on storm responses under proceedings 11-M-0481 and 06-E-1158 have not caused sufficient corrective actions by Con Edison and NYSEG concerning critical communications, resources, and restoration.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Westchester County Board of Legislators calls upon the New York State Public Service Commission to thoroughly investigate Con Ed and NYSEG’s response to Sandy including staffing, quality of response plans, communication with customers and local governments, and the timeliness of their emergency response and power restoration efforts; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Westchester County Board of Legislators calls on the Public Service Commission to promulgate new rules regarding utilities' emergency planning, base staffing, sole reliance on 'mutual aid', and other aspects of their operations relating to emergency response and power restoration; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Westchester County Board of Legislators calls on the Public Service Commission to order rebate or rate reduction from Con Ed and NYSEG for lost power, spoiled food, loss of revenue from business closures, and other foreseeable losses from extended power outages; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Clerk of the Westchester County Board of Legislators is directed to distribute a copy of this resolution to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the County's Delegation in the New York State Senate and Assembly, the Commissioners of the New York State Public Service Commission, the Secretary of the New York State Public Service Commission, and Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino so that the will of this Honorable Board be known.
Dated: November 13, 2012
White Plains, New York
Jim Maisano is the Minority Leader of the Westchester County Board of Legislators. He represents District 11 covering New Rochelle and Pelham. You can follow Jim on Facebook, Twitter or on his Blog. You can contact Jim at 914-995-2826 or CtyLegJimMaisano@gmail.com