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Cuomo: Utilities Have Failed In Aftermath Of Sandy; Suggests They Could Lose Monopolies

Gov Rips Into Con Ed, Says It Has Done Bad Job Communicating With Public
Cuomo Slams Utilities

Gov. Andrew Cuomo slammed public utilities for their performance during Sandy. (Credit: CBS 2)

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Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo slammed the state’s utility companies Monday for what he called their poor performance in restoring power and their failure to communicate with consumers.

Cuomo said at a late afternoon news conference that power had been restored to all but 480,000 New Yorkers, compared with 2.1 million after the storm. But a week after Superstorm Sandy struck, such progress is “unacceptable,” he said.

“To say that I am angry, to say that I am frustrated, disappointed, would be the understatement of the decade,” Cuomo said.

Con Edison has restored power to almost all the high-profile Lower Manhattan customers who were without power from Monday night through Friday evening. But Cuomo emphasized that there is more to New York, and Con Ed’s service area, than Manhattan, and accused the utility companies of blowing other areas off.

“You want to celebrate what Con Ed did in Manhattan, I’m going to complain about what Con Ed hasn’t done in Westchester and hasn’t done in the outer boroughs,” Cuomo said. “I’m not happy with National Grid. I’m not happy with Orange and Rockland.”

When asked what kind of recourse he had against the power companies, Cuomo reminded a reporter that they are regulated by a government authority.

“They’re regulated by the Public Service Commission. The utilities were not created in the Bible. They’re not in the Old Testament. They’re not in the New Testament. God never said, ‘New York shall have these utilities forever, and Con Ed is the utility, and there’s nothing you can do about it.’ It’s really not in the Bible,” the governor said.

In reality, Cuomo said, the decision to give Con Ed a monopoly was made by the public through the government, and under its contract with the people, part of its responsibility is to respond to crises and remain communicative.

Con Ed failed in that mission, Cuomo said.

“If your plan was, ‘Well, they contact me on the Web,’ if your power is out in your apartment, how are they going to contact you on the Web? That’s the plan?” he said.

Cuomo said he wants to give the utilities a chance to “make their side of the case,” but added he believes the service was “inadequate.”

“The state’s remedies go from sanctions to revocation of franchise,” he said.

Other utility companies can take their places, Cuomo said, as they are not “God-given monopolies.”

Are you disappointed with your utility’s performance during Sandy? Leave a comment below…