White Plains, NY — The Westchester County Board of Legislators wants utility companies to offer rebates or rate reductions to residents and businesses who experienced losses as a result of the companies’ responses to power outages caused by winter storms earlier this month. It also wants the companies to reimburse the County for money spent to operate warming centers, pay overtime to first responders and for other emergency costs.
In a bipartisan resolution passed unanimously Monday night, the Board slammed Consolidated Edison and New York State Electric and Gas for inadequate planning and deployment of resources after the storms left thousands of County residents without power, many for as long as a week and some for longer, noting that the frequency and severity of storms will worsen due to climate change.
The resolution urges the state Public Service Commission, which regulates the utilities, to order the reimbursements and rebates. It also calls on the Commission to set new rules for storm response by the companies, in particular rules involving the reliance on “mutual aid” — the process of calling in crews from other utilities across North America to help with storm recovery.
The Board also is calling for the Commission to hold public hearings in Westchester, so the Commission can hear directly from residents who were affected by the extended outages.
In addition, the resolution calls for the resignation of senior management at Con Ed and NYSEG, echoing a call last week from County Executive George Latimer. Latimer called for Con Edison Chairman John McAvoy and NYSEG President Carl Taylor to step down. “Both Con Edison and NYSEG have fumbled the recovery effort and we, as county residents, can no longer stand by and accept this. I would also like a clean sweep of senior management, and I want a new philosophy adopted.”
The Board is planning to invite Con Ed and NYSEG to a meeting with all legislators in the near future to review and discuss issues relating to storm preparation and remediation efforts.