New York State Hits Utilities With Hefty Fines for Isaias Cleanup Failures

November 20, 2020

By Barrett Seaman–

Remember how angry everybody in Westchester was last August when the utility companies failed to get people’s power back in a timely manner? Some 900,000 customers were in the dark and growing increasingly frustrated as days passed without so much as a sighting of a Con Ed repair vehicle. So were their elected officials. At the time, The Hudson Independent quoted the governor saying, “The re­sponse to trop­i­cal storm Isa­ias by the elec­tric util­i­ties was com­pletely un­ac­cept­able…Fif­teen days later and we are still hear­ing com­plaints from fam­i­lies and busi­nesses.”

Cuomo vowed that the utilities would pay for their mismanagement of the clean-up—and now they are. On Thursday, Cuomo announced that, as a result of an investigation by the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC), the state was presenting the three largest electricity providers, including Con Ed, with a bill for $137.3 million. Con Ed’s portion of that fine: $102.3 million for 33 apparent violations. The utilities have 30 days to respond to PSC’s conclusions.

Beyond the potential fines, Con Ed is also at risk for losing its contract as a provider. The PSC concluded: “Recognizing prior instances where Con Edison’s storm event response had fallen short of legal requirements, staff noticed that its investigation would include the determination of whether Con Edison’s certificate of public convenience and necessity — the prerequisite legal requirement for exercising franchise rights necessary to provide electric service in New York — should or should not be revoked based on these apparent violations as well as Con Edison’s prior failures to adequately prepare and respond to emergencies.”

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