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U.S. Congressman From Westchester: Con Ed Must Pay For Slow Storm Response

New York Congressman Eliot Engel.
New York Congressman Eliot Engel. Photo Credit: engel.house.gov

Westchester Congressman Eliot Engel has joined the cacophony of area officials and residents calling on Con Edison to make some sort of restitution after some residents have been “literally left in the dark” for nearly a week.

Engel penned a letter to Con Ed Chairman John McAvoy - which can be seen below - called on the utility company to “do what’s right,” calling Con Ed’s response to the recent stores “completely inadequate,” and stating that there should be a refund for residents who remain without power.

Citing the poor response to Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Engel said that Con Ed has failed to provide proper information to officials and residents and provided “even less action.” He stated that Con Ed should re-evaluate its response plan for disasters.

“Hundreds of thousands of residents have been negatively impacted by the storm, and many are still without power nearly one week after the storm hit,” he wrote. “After investing one billion dollars in upgrading, strengthening, and creating a more resilient system following Sandy, I am uncertain why ConEd has once again fallen short. This failure suggests that ConEd either did not follow the plan that was supposed to be put in place, or the plan itself, including upgrades to ConEd’s system, was woefully insufficient.”

The complete letter to McAvoy can be read here:

Dear Mr. McAvoy:

I write regarding Con Edison’s response to Winter Storm Riley, which has been completely inadequate for my constituents in both Westchester and the Bronx. I have participated in a number of ConEd conference calls over the last few days that have sounded remarkably similar to the ones that followed SuperStorm Sandy. In both instances, ConEd provided little information and even less action.

Hundreds of thousands of residents have been negatively impacted by the storm, and many are still without power nearly one week after the storm hit. After investing one billion dollars in upgrading, strengthening, and creating a more resilient system following Superstorm Sandy, I am uncertain why ConEd has once again fallen short. This failure suggests that ConEd either did not follow the plan that was supposed to be put in place, or the plan itself, including upgrades to ConEd’s system, was woefully insufficient.

In addition to issues with power restoration, my constituents have also been forced to deal with a flawed update system from ConEd. The interactive map on ConEd’s website provides customers with an estimated time of restoration, but some customers have seen their time of restoration continually delayed, while others were told power had been restored even though it was not. These incorrect updates only serve to make an already frustrating situation even more difficult for consumers. ConEd must do a better job of effectively communicating with those they serve and have a better system for estimating when power will be restored.

ConEd customers are subjected to regular rate hikes and delivery charges, which they have no influence over. ConEd is quick to go to the NYS Public Service Commission to request rate hikes, but is sluggish at best when it comes to allocating the time, money, and effort required to effectively harden the system for its customers. It is time for ConEd to stop worrying about its profit margins and start worrying about its customers, who have literally been left in the dark.

The unsatisfactory response on the part of ConEd to restore power in a reasonable time frame is synonymous to a dereliction of their public responsibility, and its customers deserve compensation. I request that you provide customers who have been without power for more than 24 hours with a refund on their next utility bill due to a lack of basic service rendered. In addition, it is imperative that ConEd reevaluate and improve upon its response plan before the next major weather event, and I request that you report back to me when you have an updated plan.

Sincerely,

Eliot L. Engel

Member of Congress

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