Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski joined with Governor Andrew Cuomo in announcing that the Public Service Commission (PSC) will conduct a comprehensive review of the actions of Orange and Rockland and all utilities in the state prior, during and after Saturday’s nor’easter. The PSC is the licensing and regulatory agency for utilities. Public comments can be submitted by phone, email or mail and will be included in the review process.
“When full power is restored, Rocklanders deserve nothing less than a complete and thorough review of every aspect of this storm,” said Zebrowski. “There must be consequences for failures in communication and response and changes so this doesn’t happen in the future.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a prepared statement.
"This review of the power utilities response to the heavy snow storm will help our state be better prepared for future storms and power outages," Governor Cuomo said. "Losing power for an extended period of time can be frustrating and cause serious problems for homeowners and businesses. I urge the Public Service Commission to closely examine the response of the electric companies in order to find ways to improve performance and make sure New Yorkers are properly served as the winter storm season approaches."
O&R Spokesman Mike Donovan said, “We will be participating in any review the PSC deems appropriate.”
Public comments can be submitted by calling the Opinion Line at 1-800-335-2120, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or regular mail to:
Secretary Jaclyn A. Brilling
New York State Public Service Commission,
Three Empire State Plaza,
Albany, NY 12223
Residents must include Case #11-M-0595 and name Orange & Rockland in their comments.
The review will cover all aspects of the utilities’ work including preparation, communication and response. The PSC will review information from all available sources including work data, public comment, complaint data, public official input and utility assessment reports. The review will determine if the utilities responded appropriately to the storm and identify where improvements can be made in performance.
Zebrowski said his first priority is helping all Rockland residents get their power restored then he will speak with O&R about voluntarily issuing refunds to customers who suffered financially because of lost business, spoiled food, relocation to hotels or had to eat out at restaurants.
Donovan said the PSC conducted a review after Hurricane Irene and the required reports were completed just a week before the nor’easter hit. He noted there were some changes implemented such as the request of municipalities to send more crews out to clear and cut trees touching power lines and using additional resources to assist customers.
“During this storm we were able to get Con Ed to take some of our phone work,” Donovan said.
Zebrowski said he and County Legislator Ed Day met with O&R officials after Hurricane Irene and made numerous requests. He said the call-in system functioned better after the nor’easter but the online system did not with people not getting accurate updates.
“Obviously communication was still lacking here,” he said. “I do know that they had tremendous difficulties with their online system. The maps they provided were woefully inadequate in giving people information about where the outages were across the county.”
Cuomo noted that 98 percent of the 500,000 customers who lost service across the state have had their power restored. O&R’s system wide outage number was the highest among the utilities listed at 4,547. As of 1 p.m. the number of Rockland outages held at 2,569.
The PSC report will be due in January and will be available on the commission’s website at www.dps.state.ny.us by inputting case 11-M-0595.