Cuomo Reiterates Intention to Spank Utilities Companies for Poor Post-Sandy Response


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo continued to chastise New York utilities companies yesterday for their lack of preparedness and sloppy communication in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

“I’m not wed to any of the utilities,” Cuomo said yesterday during a Sandy update news conference. “Let’s get a group of talented people, who bring a clean piece of paper, review the situation and design a new system.”

Cuomo promised to launch a full review and investigation into the performance of the utilities companies in the wake of Sandy. The findings of that review won’t be all that positive considering the large numbers of New Yorkers who went days and weeks without power following the storm.

We reported Friday on the big pile of crap that the Long Island Power Authority finds itself in — as tens of thousands of residents within LIPA’s jurisdiction, including the Rockaways in Queens, are still without power.

As with Con Edison — which has also earned the ire of the governor — LIPA has finally restored power to most of its customers living in homes structurally intact enough to receive electricity. Most of the homes still without power aren’t structurally prepared for power restoration, the utilities say.

Cuomo wouldn’t let the utilities companies off the hook because of the severity of the storm and cited Con Edison’s shoddy response to the massive power outages in Northwest Queens during a 2006 heat wave as an example of its systemic failings.

“I understand the immensity of the storm, I really, really do. And I want to be fair and reasonable with the utilities companies,” Cuomo said. “But I think they were not prepared. . . . It is a system that doesn’t work for this type of emergency-crisis reaction. It’s a system from a different time and different place.”

Remarkably, Con Edison chairman and CEO Kevin Burke somehow gathered the audacity last week to reaffirm the company’s intent to raise customer rates. Cuomo scuffed at that notion.

“I think it adds insult to injury for Con Edison or any of these utilities companies to be asking for a rate increase in the midst of this,” Cuomo said. “It’s a hollow apology from Con Edison when the next word out of their mouths is ‘I want a rate increase.’ I think the utilities company should be taking about rebating to the rate-payers.”

The governor said that New York will begin looking to other states to find an ideal model for our utilities system moving forward — as he is certain that erratic and violent weather will now be common place in New York.

“I’ve seen the movie — 22 months. I saw it with Hurricane Irene. I saw it with Storm Lee. I’ve seen it with Hurricane Sandy. I get it. I’ve seen the movie three times. Climate change is real. It’s here. It’s going to happen,” Cuomo said. “We have to make sure that we’re prepared for when this happens again.”