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Call For 'Stiff Penalties' Vs. Utility Companies Made By County Legislators

Utility crews trimming trees and restoring power lines along Bedford Road at Maple Avenue in Armonk. Photo Credit: Contributed/ Dr. Kathy Reilly Fallon
Westchester County's Board of Legislators quizzed representatives of Con Edison and NYSEG earlier this month about the utility companies' delayed response to restoring electrical during March winter nor'easter storms. Photo Credit: Provided

The Westchester County Board of Legislators is urging the New York State Public Service Commission to impose stiff financial penalties on Consolidated Edison and New York State Electric and Gas for the companies’ response to the March storms that left thousands of Westchester residents without power, many for a week or more.

In a letter signed by all the Legislators and sent on Tuesday, March 27 to Public Service Commission Chairman John B. Rhodes, the county Board asked for “significant financial penalties” to be imposed on the companies for their “inadequate preparation and response” to the storms.

But, the Board noted, the cost of these penalties must not be passed on to rate-payers.

“The Commission’s penalizing action is crucial to provoke the utilities to change their procedures and prevent missteps in future storms, which have had such profound impact on our communities,” the Board wrote in the letter.

Earlier this month, the Board urged the Public Service Commission to hold public hearings in Westchester, so the Commission can hear directly from residents who were affected by the extended outages.

The Commission is the government entity that regulates the utilities. On March 14, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Department of Public Service would launch an investigation into Con Ed and NYSEG’s preparedness for and response to the storms.

On March 19, as reported here by Daily Voice, the County Board spent nearly three hours grilling representatives of Con Edison and NYSEG about the companies' response to the March Nor'easters.

Legislators asked about possible reimbursements to ratepayers, storm preparedness, response coordination with municipal officials, and failures in the “mutual aid” process.

Tuesday's letter also follows a news conference Monday by County Executive George Latimer and David Buchwald during which other plans of action were detailed.

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