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Con Ed CEO Admits To CBS 2: ‘We Didn’t Know The Answers’

Kevin Burke Apologizes, Says You Can Trust The Latest Restoration Estimates
Con Ed CEO Kevin Burke

Con Ed CEO Kevin Burke told CBS 2’s Lou Young on Nov. 8, 2012, that his utility misjudged the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy and was ill-prepared for the power outage aftermath in NYC and the northern suburbs. (photo: CBS 2)

Superstorm Sandy

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The snow, on top of destruction already caused by Superstorm Sandy, left residents who thought they found some relief back at square one.

Can you imagine losing your power … again?!

On the 10th day since the lights went out, Lloyd Highbloom went back to his Chappaqua home and found that even the cable company had managed to get to him before Con Edison.

He was flabbergasted.

“I am not happy. I’m not happy at all. This is beyond the beyondo,” Highbloom said.

CBS 2’s Lou Young got a chance to question the head man at Con Ed on Thursday afternoon in White Plains.

“I’m very sorry about what happened, very sorry,” CEO Kevin Burke said.

Burke said Con Ed underestimated the size of Sandy’s storm surge. He said a full review of its response will follow the current restoration effort.

That was little consolation to some customers who found out the hard way that getting power back isn’t necessarily permanent.

“Got power back and it went off again. I don’t know, we’re supposed to get it back tomorrow night,” Bronxville resident Jill Tybosh said.

Tybosh was using her vehicle to power a nebulizer for her sick son.  Con Ed’s chairman said she can trust the new estimate — even though many people have had a hard time getting straight answers from the company.

CBS 2’s Young grilled Burke for the answers.

Young: “Were the answers unknowable or did you just do a bad job communicating with the customers?’

Burke: “At some point in time, especially at the beginning of the process, you don’t know how much work has to get done. Fairly quickly the computer systems will give you an estimate of how many customers are out of service. But until you get people out there to do damage assessment, to assess the damage, to find out how many trees are down, how many wires have to be put up … In some cases cases, customers can get back pretty quickly if it’s just a couple of switches that you have to open and close.”

Young: “So you are saying you didn’t know the answers?”

Burke: “No, we didn’t know the answers. You are absolutely right.”

Burke might have sounded conciliatory in the face of the Sandy fiasco, but make no mistake, he said he’s still going to fight to raise customers’ rates.

“We’ve been investing in our system and part of the reason in general, excluding such a major storm as this, is the system is very reliable,” Burke said. “We’re going to continue to make those investments and we’re going to continue to, as appropriate, apply for increases.”

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