Governor: Utilities Could Lose License if Electricity Isn’t Quickly Restored

andrew cuomo getty3 Governor: Utilities Could Lose License if Electricity Isnt Quickly Restored

(Photo: Getty)

At a press conference this evening, Gov. Andrew Cuomo upped the ante on power companies as millions of residents in the New York metropolitan area remain without power after Hurricane Sandy left them in the dark at the start of the week.

“There are a number of utility companies that are involved in providing power throughout the affected area, you have Con Edison, you have LIPA, etc., you have a number of others. I believe most companies are working very, very hard to restore the power,” he said. “I also believe that I want them to understand how important a function this is; this is not just a restoration of power, which is important. This is a restoration of power after a storm when families are really living in hardship.”

Mr. Cuomo then described his selection of penalizing tools he can use against any utility companies that are overly sluggish in this job.

“The state regulates the public utilities. The state certifies the public utilities. Their performance in this operation I believe is germane to their regulatory status,” he continued. “If the state believes they were not diligent and aggressive in their activities to restore power, they could be subject to monetary penalties. They could even lose their certification. I have communicated this orally to most and we are also releasing a letter that I sent them today. I believe, as I said, most of the companies are working very hard and are trying their best. But this is not just about effort and good faith effort, this is about getting the job done because a lot of New Yorkers are relying on them. If they want to be a utility in this state, if they want consumers to pay the bill, if they want to be licensed by the state, certified by the state, then they have to perform.”

View Mr. Cuomo’s letter to the companies below:

November 1, 2012

Mr. Kevin Burke, Chief Executive Officer
Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Inc.
4 Irving Place
New York, NY 10003-3598

Mr. William Longhi, President & Chief Executive Officer
Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc.
One Blue Hill Plaza
Pearl River, NY 10965
Mr. James Laurito, President & Chief Executive Officer
Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp.
284 South Avenue
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

Mr. Mark S. Lynch, President
Rochester Gas & Electric Corp. & New York State Electric & Gas Corp.
89 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14649

Mr. Ken Daly, Chief Operating Officer
National Grid – NY
One Metro Tech Center
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Mr. Thomas B. King, President
National Grid, USA
201 Jones Road – 5th Fl.
Waltham, MA 02451-1120

Mr. Michael Hervey, Chief Operating Officer
Long Island Power Authority
333 Earle Ovington Blvd., Suite 403
Uniondale, NY 11553
Dear Gentlemen:

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, New Yorkers are faced with responding to its continued harsh impacts on literally every facet of life. I recognize there are men and women in the field now working hard to restore service, and we are grateful for their efforts. But it is your job to provide them with adequate resources and support to get the job done in a timely and safe manner. Utilities, like elected officials, are vested with the public’s trust. In the case of utilities, in exchange for conducting business and generating profits for their shareholders, they are entrusted to provide safe and adequate utility service. When they fail to keep the public’s trust, they must answer.

Because we had several days’ notice of an event of catastrophic proportions, State and local government and New Yorkers prepared for an impending storm. Indeed, the public depended on utilities to prepare for such an event, respond to emergencies and to return, as quickly as possible, to providing safe and adequate electricity. The response of your companies to this emergency will be, in great part, a function of how well you prepared for it and a testament to how seriously you view this responsibility.

If you failed to prepare, however, as evidenced by your response, it is a failure to keep your part of the bargain – a failure to keep the trust that New Yorkers have placed in you by granting you the privilege to conduct utility business in New York State; in particular, the certificates of public convenience and necessity (“Certificate”) granted by the State under the Public Service Law. New Yorkers should not suffer because electric utilities did not reasonably prepare for this eventuality. In the context of the ongoing emergency, such a failure constitutes a breach of the public trust.

Under such circumstances, I would direct the Public Service Commission to commence a proceeding to revoke your Certificates. With respect to the Long Island Power Authority, I will make every change necessary to ensure it lives up to its public responsibility. It goes without saying that such failures would warrant the removal of the management responsible for such colossal misjudgments.

Sincerely,
ANDREW M. CUOMO