Gov. Cuomo blasts NY utilities for recent storm responses

Posted: Updated:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a news conference in Suffern Wednesday where he slammed the power companies for their responses to previous nor’easters.

Cuomo spoke at the Thruway Authority’s Hudson Valley headquarters.

The governor already declared a state of emergency for Rockland, Westchester, Putnam, Suffolk and Nassau counties, as well as New York City. He said he had deployed 300 National Guard members to the area, along with rapid response teams to help prevent and take care of problems on Metro-North.

MORE: Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds press conference on fourth nor'easter

MORE: Gov. Andrew Cuomo discusses storm in Suffern

Cuomo discussed his frustration with the utility companies. He said they failed miserably in getting the lights back on in homes in the Hudson Valley after the second nor'easter.

He said that the utility companies' licenses to provide power is a state right, not a God-given right, and as a state right, the state can revoke it.

Cuomo said that the utility companies' problem isn't enough mutual aid. He said they have the crews, but they just don't know what to do with them.

News 12 asked Cuomo what he felt was an acceptable response time by the utilities to power outages. He said it all depended on the nature of the storm and number of outages, but that the last storm was nothing special and never warranted some people going without power for up to 10 days.

Cuomo also blasted the utilities during an earlier news conference on Long Island.

“The last storm we went through we had a number of power outages that took a prolonged period of time to get them up and running. It was a problem on Long Island, it was a problem in Westchester.  I asked for a review by the Public Service Commission that regulates the utilities because they have to do a better job, period,” he said. “People pay them to supply power to the home, not just when it's sunny - but also when there's a storm. New Yorkers are understanding and we understand there could be a storm and power lines are down. But we also expect the utilities to do their job and to have the personnel and resources to quickly restore power. In my opinion, they have failed that mission.”

MORE: Gov. Cuomo holds press conference on nor'easter

Cuomo went on to say the PSC is doing a review that could end in financial sanctions. He also warned utilities that they are granted a license to operate in New York and that those licenses could be revoked.

“I understand these storms are a relatively recent phenomenon, but we have all had to adjust,” he said. “New Yorkers have had to adjust, local governments have had to adjust and the power companies have to learn to adjust. This is the new normal, and we want better service from them than we have gotten thus far.”

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