Governor keeps the heat on Con Edison and PSEG for Tropical Storm Isaias response

A motorcyclist travels through flooded streets in Brooklyn during Tropical Storm Fay on July 10, 2020.
File photo/Todd Maisel

Governor Andrew Cuomo is refining the law guiding the state on what is required to revoke a franchise from an energy provider taking obvious aim at Con Edison and PSEG for a sluggish response to Tropical Storm Isaias.

The state Department of Financial Services will also be conducting an investigation into the response effort, still ongoing, as well as withhold a $10 million performance bonus included in PSEG’s contract with New York.

The state Department of Public Service will be issuing violations to both power companies, especially for Rockland County and the Central Hudson.

“After this tropical story, they’re not receiving that bonus,” Cuomo said. “Frankly, we’ve gone through this situation too many times, and I have personally been on-site at these emergencies… But the service we pay them for is in that precise instance. That’s what we pay them for.”

The new law proposed by Cuomo will not only give the state the ability to expedite the revocation process but will clarify who owns infrastructure paid for by account-holders of those companies. Cabling for example, could be wrapped up in litigation over ownership and responsibility.

“At the end of the day we represent the people of the state and they’ve been paying these bills for many years, and they’re not going to pay twice if there’s a revocation,” Cuomo added.

Isaias hit landfall in the northeast on Aug. 4.

According to Con Edison on Aug. 10, 19,000 customers currently without service and include 15,000 in Westchester, 2,800 in Queens, 650 in the Bronx and 400 in Brooklyn despite Isaias blowing through about a week ago. The company has 3,800 workers in the field repair downed lines, removing fallen trees and rebuilding infrastructure in some places.

“We are focused on continuously improving.  Our storm response plans enabled us to restore more than 300,000 customer outages from Tropical Storm Isaias at a rate that was more than two times faster than after Winter Storms Riley and Quinn and 1.5 times faster than Hurricane Irene,” a Con Edison spokesman said. “We are enhancing our reliability, resiliency and storm response in a variety of ways, including implementation of a resilience plan. That is essential at a time when climate change is making severe weather events more frequent and devastating for our customers.”

Attempts to reach PSEG were unsuccessful.

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