Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed an Executive Order to establish a commission under the Moreland Act that will investigate the response, preparation, and management of New Yorks power utility companies with major storms hitting the state over the past two years, including Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee.
The Commission will be tasked to undertake a thorough review of all actions taken by the power companies before and after these emergencies, and make specific recommendations to reform and modernize oversight, regulation and management of New York's power delivery services.
"From Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, to Hurricane Sandy, over the past two years New York has experienced some of the worst natural disasters in our state's history," Governor Cuomo said. As we adjust to the reality of more frequent major weather incidents, we must study and learn from these past experiences to prepare for the future.
The Commission's mandate includes examining and making recommendations to reform the overlapping responsibilities and missions of NYPA, LIPA, NYSERDA, and the Public Service Commission. As evidenced by Hurricane Sandy, the existing labyrinth of regulatory bodies, state agencies and authorities, and quasi-governmental bodies has contributed to a dysfunctional utility system.
The Commission will have the power to subpoena and examine witnesses under oath. The Commission members include:
Co-Chair Robert Abrams, former Attorney General of New York StateCo-Chair Benjamin Lawsky, Superintendent of the Department of Financial ServicesPeter Bradford, former Chair of the Public Service CommissionTony Collins, President of Clarkson UniversityJohn Dyson, former Chairman of the New York Power AuthorityRev. Floyd Flake, Senior Pastor of Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal CathedralMark Green, former New York City Public AdvocateJoanie Mahoney, Onondaga County ExecutiveKathleen Rice, Nassau County District AttorneyDan Tishman, Vice Chairman at AECOM Technology Corporation, and Chairman and CEO of Tishman Construction Corporation
The Executive Order establishing the Commission is below:
DESIGNATION PURSUANT TO SECTION 6 OF THE EXECUTIVE LAW
WHEREAS, beginning on October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused massive power outages throughout Long Island, New York City, Westchester, Rockland and surrounding counties, affecting over two million customers, including ninety percent of customers on Long Island; and
WHEREAS, storm emergencies have effected, as well as thousands of businesses and private and public services providers charged with the protection of the health and safety of New Yorkers, including hospitals, adult homes, nursing homes and other residences serving persons with disabilities and other special needs; and
WHEREAS, storm emergencies crippled major public transportation systems, including mass transportation, bridges, tunnels, roads and several waterways, throughout the region; and
WHEREAS, the loss of power adversely affected a variety of other critical systems including communications services, gasoline terminals and stations, natural gas delivery to residences and steam delivery to large residential and commercial complexes, and
WHEREAS, on November 7, 2012, a Noreaster with snow exacerbated the suffering, property damage and power outages sustained in some of the same areas affected by Hurricane Sandy; and
WHEREAS, such sustained disruption of the power supply and its cascading damage to other critical systems in many communities, neighborhoods and industrial areas, as well as the continued prevalence of downed utility lines, has jeopardized the health and safety of New Yorkers and undermined public confidence in the public utility service system; and
WHEREAS, in August and September of 2011, as a result of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee over one million customers in New York State lost power and some communities suffered prolonged power outages which not only impacted Long Island, New York City, Westchester, Rockland and surrounding counties, but also the counties of Albany, Broome, Chenango, Chemung, Clinton, Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Tioga, Tompkins, Warren and Washington; and
WHEREAS, in December 2008, an ice storm caused over 300,000 power outages in New York State, and many customers were still without power a week after the storm; and
WHEREAS, these recent and past events indicate that utility emergency response planning and procedures must anticipate future emergencies and be prepared.
WHEREAS, utilities are required to provide safe, adequate and reliable services to the public; and
WHEREAS, while the New York State Public Service Commission is the regulatory agency charged with oversight of private utilities in the State of New York, there exists a labyrinth of other regulatory bodies, state agencies, authorities and quasi-governmental bodies including but not limited to the New York Power Authority, the Long Island Power Authority, and the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority, whose overlapping mandates, jurisdiction and responsibilities have contributed to a dysfunctional utility system; and
WHEREAS, serious questions have been raised about the adequacy of utility management, structures, resources, the current regulatory framework and oversight to ensure effective preparation for and response to natural disasters by utilities in this State, particularly in light of the increasing frequency and intensity of such disasters as well as the licensing, certification, supervision and regulation of the power industry in New Yorker under existing law; and
WHEREAS, to maintain public confidence in the provision of vital services by utilities, it is manifestly in the public interest to study, examine, investigate and review each and every component of the provision of power to New York State: and
WHEREAS, Article IV, Section 3, of the New York Constitution vests the Governor with the obligation to take care that the laws are faithfully executed;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, ANDREW M. CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of New York, do hereby order as follows:
G I V E N under my hand and the Privy Seal of the State in the City of Albany this thirteenth day of November in the year two thousand twelve.
BY THE GOVERNOR
Secretary to the Governor