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Gov. Cuomo Applies Significant Pressure On Utilities To Get Power Flowing

Despite Companies' Efforts To Restore Electricity, Preparedness Scrutinized
Gov. Andrew Cuomo giving Sandy update on Thursday, November 1, 2012. (credit: Governor's Office via Flickr.com)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo giving Sandy update on Thursday, November 1, 2012. (credit: Governor’s Office via Flickr.com)

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Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Governor Andrew Cuomo sent a stern warning to utility companies on Thursday: Do not mess around. Get the electricity up and running immediately.

Or else.

Cuomo told companies that there could be fines and other consequences if the state believes they haven’t been aggressive in dealing with Superstorm Sandy-related power outages.

READ: Gov. Cuomo’s Letter To Utilities Companies

Cuomo on Thursday released a letter he sent to the power companies. He said he recognized that the utilities were working to restore power to all the New Yorkers who had lost it during the storm.

However, he warned companies that their timeliness in getting power back to their customers would be a reflection of how well they prepared for the storm and how seriously they took their responsibility to the public.

“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,” Cuomo wrote.

Cuomo said those who didn’t respond well could face having their state certifications removed by regulators.

“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, they have to perform and we want performance and it’s very important,” Cuomo said during a Thursday news conference.

The company most clearly in the governor’s cross hairs was likely Con Edison, which had some 538,000 outages still left to address as of 8:30 p.m. Thursday, three days after Sandy decimated the Tri-State Area. Though the governor did not mention Con Ed specifically during his news conference, the utility does service the hardest hit areas of New York City and the somewhat forgotten areas of Westchester County that could be in the dark a lot longer than their neighbors to the south.

The other big utility likely high on the governor’s “get it done” list figured to be the Long Island Power Authority, which had 644,430 outages still remaining as of 8:30 p.m., with Hempstead, North Hempstead and Oyster Bay in the worst shape of the remaining affected areas.

“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,” Cuomo wrote.

In all, Cuomo sent the letter to the highest-ranking officers of seven utilities, including those north and west of New York City and Westchester.

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