Lawmakers take concerns from residents, officials directly to utilities following Isaias

Lawmakers take concerns from residents, officials directly to utilities following Isaias

Tropical Storm Isaias left thousands across the Hudson Valley in the dark for more than a week, and Westchester lawmakers took people's concerns directly to Con Edison and NYSEG Thursday.
Frustration still lingers among residents and officials. They say local utility companies were sluggish and inadequate in their response, leaving some without power for up to a week or longer.

Representatives for NYSEG and Con Ed were confronted for the first time by the County Board of Legislators on Thursday.

"Our customers have made it clear that they have no patience when they are out of power for multiple days, and we definitely understand their frustration," said Shakira Wilson, of Con Edison.
Con Ed specifically pointed out idealistic options, like eliminating all trees near power lines and moving the entire system underground. It recognized that these are not realistic.

"Balancing expectations with cost for our customers is also critically important, and must be an essential part of the conversation going forward," said Wilson.
Instead, officials presented more concrete, doable solutions, like storm-hardening equipment and hiring local crews.

"The need to stop relying on right-to-work states that are a thousand miles away. And start getting more local crews. We have electricians who can be trained to do various points of the process," said MaryJane Shimsky, Westchester County Board of Legislators majority leader.
But there was some pushback.
"It's not 'we need 50 more people locally to hire,' which we are doing--it's really big numbers," said Matt Sniffen, of Con Ed.

One thing all parties agreed on was that utility companies need to make these changes quickly and communicate better with their customers.
"Con Ed's login is really cumbersome. Slows things down. You have to repeat over and over who you are," says Kitley Covill, of Westchester County Board of Legislators.
Many in the meeting attributed the harsher and more frequent storms to climate change. And as more storms come, the pressure is on the utility companies to respond more quickly.