Letters to the editor

A Need to Tighten the Reins on Utility Companies

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September 3, 2020

To the Editor,

With tropical storm Isaias now in the rearview mirror it is time for us, together, to move forward to ensure that we learn from this experience and avoid such prolonged outages in the future. While there are many reforms being discussed in our communities, I would like to highlight some of the obvious changes I am advocating for.

First and foremost we need to change the incentive structure for our utility and telecommunications companies. We need the Public Service Commission (PSC) to issue larger fines for inadequately slow responses.

A10955/S8932 creates time-based goals for power restoration. The goal is for full restoration within 48 hours, with the requirement that at least 80% of customers have service restored after 48 hours.

A10900/S8931 directs the PSC to study the feasibility and costs of burying utility transmission lines. Many of our outages are related to falling trees and wind. While some areas are already underground, our area is susceptible. This bill is the first step to undergrounding our system.

A4010 requires gas stations to have emergency generators that supply 48 hours of electricity. We rely on gas stations for our cars and generators. Having gas stations remain open is in the public interest.

Finally, electric utilities should provide reimbursements for the foods and medicines of all customers who are left without power for more than 24 hours. This is another way that companies cut corners to save a dime.

There is much left to do to improve our system. If you have ideas for legislation on this topic please email me at galefs@nyassembly.gov. These are necessary first steps, with more to come.

Sincerely,

Sandy Galef

95th Assembly District

 

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