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Isaias: 'Your Franchise Can Be Revoked, I Am Not Bluffing,' Cuomo Warns Utility Companies

Utility crews in New York have been criticized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for their response to Tropical Storm Isaias. Photo Credit: Con Edison
Utility crews in New York have been criticized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for their response to Tropical Storm Isaias. Photo Credit: Twitter
Utility crews in New York have been criticized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for their response to Tropical Storm Isaias. Photo Credit: PSEG Long Island

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is threatening to pull the plug on some of the state’s utility companies as thousands remain without power in New York nearly a week after Tropical Storm Isaias ran roughshod over the East Coast.

On Monday, Aug. 10, six days after the storm struck, Cuomo called out the utility companies for their lack of preparedness for another storm, nearly a decade after Hurricane Sandy devastated New York.

Cuomo said that he’s spoken to the utility companies numerous times, and that they are failing to provide an essential service to their customers, specifically naming Con Edison and PSEG Long Island.

“That is the essential service that is the art form for utility and Con Ed and PSEG did a lousy job," Cuomo said. "That’s a technical term - lousy job.

“They were not prepared, and they didn't anticipate what it would take to get back online quickly and there's nothing new here.

“There's a mutual aid system, we've deployed the mutual aid system. When numerous geographic areas are hit at the same time the mutual aid system becomes stressed and then that utility has to prepare with enough additional crews to do the repairs quickly.”

In addition to failing to properly prepare for the storm, Cuomo said that Con Ed and PSEG Long Island also lacked transparency while dealing with customers left in the dark in the wake of the storm.

“They are also supposed to be prepared to provide people with information, so people know when the power is coming back on,” Cuomo said. “It's not an excuse to say, ‘We were overwhelmed with calls.' Of course, you were overwhelmed with calls. That's what happens after a storm and when power is out.

“So, look, I'm personally disappointed in them because this is a conversation I've had with them,” Cuomo said. “But forget the personal disappointment. I have told (the Public Service Commission) to be as aggressive as the law will allow, because New Yorkers are fed up. They're fed up and they're right. And I'm with them.”

As the Public Service Commission continues to investigate the muted response to Isaias, Cuomo threatened to revoke the companies’ franchises. He also threatened to levy fines, penalties and to force them to pay restitution to customers.

“Your franchise can be revoked," Cuomo said. “I am not bluffing. I don't bluff. Your franchise can be revoked. 

"Con Edison, your franchise can be revoked. And I'm as serious as a heart attack.

"PSEG, you know your franchise can be revoked. And that is a real possibility,.

" 'Well, we're big, we've been here for a long time.' I don't care."

Cuomo added: “If you are not serving the people of the state — they give you a license to provide a service; if you don't provide the service, they will revoke the license. 

"And the license is your franchise,” he said. “We'll get the facts, but this is not our first rodeo. And we'll get those facts, we'll get that report, but this was entirely unacceptable.” 

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