04.10.18

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND DEMAND REVIEW OF PROCESS FOR NEW YORK’S UTILITIES AS THOUSANDS OF NEW YORKERS FACED EXTENDED POWER OUTAGES IN THE WAKE OF WIND STORMS

Schumer, Gillibrand: Fully Examine Your Response to Last Week’s Wind Storm; Look Closely at the Procedures You Used to Communicate with Members of the Public and with Local Officials

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today wrote a letter to the President and CEO of NYSEG and RG&E, demanding a review of the process for restoring full power after outages in the wake of last week’s wind storms. The letter also requests transparency about what concrete steps the utility companies are taking when responding to major storm events.

“We write to express our deep concern over the extended power outages for thousands of New York households following the April 4th high wind storm, as well as concerns we heard from constituents and local officials about a lack of communication, and in some cases miscommunication, from NYSEG. The storm resulted in widespread damage, dangerous roads and conditions, downed trees, and prolonged power outages across Upstate New York,” the Senators wrote. “As you assess your response to the winter storms that have occurred across New York State, we urge you to look closely at the procedures you used to communicate with members of the public and with local officials, many of whom are relied upon to provide information and resources to the public.”

The Senators’ letter is available below and here.

Mr. Carl A. Taylor

President and Chief Executive Officer

NYSEG and RG&E

P.O. Box 5224

Binghamton, NY 13902-5224

Dear Mr. Taylor,

We write to express our deep concern over the extended power outages for thousands of New York households following the April 4th high wind storm, as well as concerns we heard from constituents and local officials about a lack of communication, and in some cases miscommunication, from NYSEG. The storm resulted in widespread damage, dangerous roads and conditions, downed trees, and prolonged power outages across Upstate New York. We are particularly concerned that these extended outages come at the heels of an unacceptably long delay in restoring power to NYSEG’s customers in the Hudson Valley last month. We appreciate your response to our letter of March 9th, but New Yorkers need to know that you are taking concrete steps to improve the response to significant weather events and to do a better job of providing information to affected customers and local officials. Accordingly, as you continue to review your response to the storms in the Hudson Valley, we hope you will also fully examine your response to last week’s wind storm as well. As we stated in our previous letter to you, lessons must be learned and applied to ensure an improved response to future storms and power outages.

It is our understanding that local officials were originally told it would not take more than 24 to 36 hours to fully restore power, which was inaccurate. Power was not fully restored until 72 hours after the storm. As you assess your response to the winter storms that have occurred across New York State, we urge you to look closely at the procedures you used to communicate with members of the public and with local officials, many of whom are relied upon to provide information and resources to the public. Inaccurate information that sets false expectations can have serious consequences for those who make decisions based upon when they expect power to be restored. 

Our constituents deserve transparency and they deserve to know whether the power utilities that serve them are fully prepared to meet the challenges that lie ahead. We hope that you will take these concerns seriously and work to improve your procedures for responding to serious weather events and improve your communication with the public and local officials.

Thank you for your attention to this letter. 

Sincerely,

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