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NY Governor Cuomo to Con Edison & PSEG: I am as Serious As a Heart Attack, You Can Lose Your Franchise

NY Governor Cuomo to Con Edison & PSEG: I am as Serious As a Heart Attack, You Can Lose Your Franchise

Today, NY Governor Cuomo struck out against utility companies for not having provided the service due their customers. Thousands of New Yorkers are still without power as a result from Tropical Storm Isaias which hit New York nearly a week ago and the Governor was having none of it.

It’s now one day shy of a full week since Tropical Storm Isaias hit New York. Yet thousands, still without power, have been suffering through the heat waves that have hit the tri-state area.

As recent as Friday, August 7, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio made some references to the numbers that were still without full service.

“So right now just about 57,000 households do not have power in New York City as a result of the storm earlier in the week, from the latest we’ve heard from Con Ed, they are still sticking to the notion,” said the Mayor. “Con Ed, I want to see that number greatly intensify – telling people by the end of Sunday is not a good answer. We need to see that speed up, certainly for the vast majority of households and we’ll keep Con Ed’s feet to the fire, and we have urged them to move faster…”

The Mayor made no mention of it during his press conference today, yet the Governor had plenty to say during his own briefing.

“I am not bluffing. I don’t bluff. Your franchise can be revoked. Con Edison, your franchise can be revoked. And I’m as serious as a heart attack,” Mr. Cuomo stated.

For anyone unfamiliar, when the Governor speaks of PSC below he’s referring to the NY State Department of Public Service which he made mention of last Thursday.

“We had a storm, we have 549,000 people still without electric service. I have the state PSC doing an investigation,” said the Governor on August 6. “I understand from the utilities point of view, there was a storm and trees came down and wires fell. Yes, I know. This is not our first rodeo. That’s what happens. We pay the utility companies to be ready to fix the situation or avoid the situation. That’s why we pay them. We pay them to provide a service. The service they provide is when it’s sunny out, everything works. The service is also anticipating a storm, anticipating the issue and making sure people don’t lose power when a storm comes.”

Records at the official PSC site shows a letter sent by Kyle Strober, Executive Director
Association for a Better Long Island. In the letter he requests that Altice USA be included in their investigation.

“”On August 5, 2020, Governor Cuomo directed your department to investigate utilities in wake of the failed storm response. He stated, “The large volume of outages and the utilities’ failure to communicate with customers in real time proves they did not live up to their legal obligations.” As the governing body responsible for ensuring reliable utility service, including telecommunications, ABLI respectfully requests that you include Altice USA in your investigation in wake of the failed Hurricane Isaias response. It is critical that Long Island, a region historically known for being susceptible to storms, be better prepared, especially as we begin to economically recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” read part of the letter.

Following the audio is the related transcript.

Governor Cuomo today:

“We’re still recovering from the tropical storm. The utility companies – some of them are doing a better job some are doing a worse job. ConEdison and PSE&G are doing the worst jobs in terms of recovery. I’ve asked the Public Service Commission to do an investigation and they are in the midst of that, but this is an old story at this point. There will be storms and the utility companies know that. I’ve spoken to them about this numerous times. The essential service a utility provides is, at this point, it is preparing for a storm and recovering from the storm. That is the essential service that is the art form for utility and ConEd and PSE&G did a lousy job. That’s a technical term – lousy job. They were not prepared, and they didn’t anticipate what it would take to get back online quickly and we- there’s nothing new here. There’s a mutual aid system, we’ve deployed the mutual aid system. When numerous geographic areas are hit at the same time the mutual aid system becomes stressed and then that utility has to prepare with enough additional crews to do the repairs quickly. It’s not an excuse to say, “Oh well everyone was stressed and the mutual aid system was stretched thin.” We know that’s going to happen. It is inevitable and that’s what they’re supposed to be prepared for. They are also supposed to be prepared to provide people with information, so people know when the power is coming back on. It’s not an excuse to say, “We were overwhelmed with calls.” Of course you were overwhelmed with calls. That’s what happens after a storm and when power is out. So, look, I’m personally disappointed in them because this is a conversation I’ve had with them. But forget the personal disappointment. PSC- I have told them to be as aggressive as the law will allow, because New Yorkers are fed up. Especially Nassau and areas within the Con Ed jurisdiction. They’re fed up and they’re right. And I’m with them.

The PSC is doing the investigation. Depending on what they find in the investigation, they can require fines, penalties, restitution, and I want the utilities to know that we do not abide by the concept in New York that anything is too big to fail. Your franchise can be revoked. I am not bluffing. I don’t bluff. Your franchise can be revoked. Con Edison, your franchise can be revoked. And I’m as serious as a heart attack. PSEG, you know your franchise can be revoked. And that is a real possibility. “Well, we’re big. We’ve been here for a long time.” I don’t care. If you are not serving the people of the State— they give you a license to provide a service; if you don’t provide the service, they will revoke the license. And the license is your franchise. And again, I don’t want to pre-judge the PSC investigation. We’ll get the facts, but this is not our first rodeo. And we’ll get those facts, we’ll get that report, but this was entirely unacceptable. In my opinion.”

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