(The Center Square) – Two days after Tropical Storm Isaias blew through New York, nearly 550,000 residents remained without power, prompting Gov. Andrew Cuomo to call for an investigation into the state’s utility providers.
“I take a very hard line with the utility companies,” Cuomo told reporters Thursday. “We don’t pay for sunny-day service. We pay for everyday service, and the whole art form in the business is being able to prevent damage during the storm and quick recovery after a storm. That’s the essence of what we pay for.
“If we’re only going to pay for service on sunny days, then that’s a different contract, and then reduce the amount of money that we pay for the service.”
Power companies have said it could be days before service could be restored to all New Yorkers. Consolidated Edison said the storm created the second largest power outage in its history, which dates back more than a century. It expects all its customers to regain power by Sunday.
Cuomo declared a state of emergency Wednesday for the downstate New York region, including New York City and Long Island. He also deployed the National Guard to assist with recovery and cleanup efforts in Putnam County.
In addition, 7,000 state emergency workers are “supplementing” utility crews, a moved that perturbed the governor. While he acknowledged the severity of the storm, he said telephone and energy companies should have been better prepared for Isaias.
“I shouldn’t be doing this,” Cuomo continued about deploying state workers at taxpayer cost. “This is not about emergency workers every time there’s a storm. If the utility companies can’t do the prevention and can’t do the expeditious remediation, then they shouldn’t have a franchise.”
The companies Cuomo wants the state Department of Public Service to investigate are Verizon, PSEG Long Island, Con Edison, Central Hudson Gas and Electric, Orange and Rockland Utilities and New York State Electric and Gas.
While Cuomo was critical of the utility providers’ response to Isaias, the New York State Republican Party wasted little time in criticizing him, saying “Governor ‘Windbreaker,’” was to blame for the extended outages.
“Cuomo is so drunk on his own power and focused on promoting himself that he failed to adequately prepare and direct resources for Tropical Storm Isaias that delivered Sandy-like destruction to New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley,” state GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy said in a statement.