Department of Public Service to Examine Causes of Power Restoration Delays, Communications Breakdowns, Among Other Concerns
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New York State Department of Public Service has formally notified the chief executives of the state's major electric utility companies that an investigation into preparedness of and response to two early March Nor'easters is now underway. The storms caused more than 590,000 New York homes and businesses to lose power, some for as long as 10 days.
"In the wake of recent storms, it is abundantly clear that some utilities failed to meet our expectations," Governor Cuomo said. "Given the number of prolonged outages, I directed the Department of Public Service to investigate the utilities' preparations and response to the storms. New York will hold these utility companies accountable, and we will take action to ensure that outages like the ones experienced in March do not happen again."
Notification letters were delivered to utility CEOs after storm damage restorations were completed. In the letter to CEOs, the Department of Public Service stated that it will conduct a comprehensive investigation of the companies' preparation and response to those events, including all aspects of the companies' filed and approved emergency plans.
Following the Governor's announcement on March 6, directing the Department of Public Service to conduct a full review of the utility companies, the formal launch of this investigation is underway and will examine the performance of all seven major electric utilities in New York — Con Edison, National Grid, NYSEG, RG&E, Orange & Rockland, Central Hudson, and PSEG Long Island.
The investigation includes an evaluation under the Public Service Commission's emergency response scorecard, a regulatory tool developed following SuperstormSandy to gather data and assess utility performance. Utility filings of scorecard data are due in 30 days. Under Department rules, an emergency response performance assessment must also be completed by each company and filed within 60 days. The public will have an opportunity to attend and participate in public statement hearings which will be held to provide input into the investigation, as well as comment on the companies' restoration efforts.
"We will undertake a thorough and intense investigation, because the response and restoration has not met the expectations of New Yorkers," said DPS CEO John B. Rhodes. "As part of this investigation, we will determine what went right, and what went wrong, and take action accordingly. Utilities must follow their utility response plans and failure to do so can result in financial penalties to shareholders."
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