By Tony Aiello

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Westchester County has a few ideas about how utilities can improve power restoration after bad weather.

In fact, it has dozens of of them, outlined in a tough new report after the tropical storm in August.

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, Tropical Storm Isaias blew through Westchester in two hours on Aug. 5, but power, phone and internet issues lingered for more than a week.

So what if the county trained a reserve corps of workers to help utilities with cleanup and restoration?

“We can find that corps just as we do with auxiliary police and volunteer firefighters. This wouldn’t be voluntary. There would be a paid structure to them. So we could put more manpower out in the field immediately,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer.

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The county executive’s idea is one of 42 suggestions in a report prepared for a group of elected officials known as United Westchester, which came together after the devastating March 2018 nor’easter to demand Con Ed and other utilities do more to quickly restore service.

White Plains Mayor Tom Roach said he sees some improvement, including new switching equipment to reduce the impact of downed lines and wires.

“To try and isolate outages and separate them from the grid as a whole. To reduce numbers that way,” Roach said.

The report calls for a review of everything from how the utilities forecast the weather to how they explain reimbursement policies for service outages.

FLASHBACK: Gov. Cuomo Says Utility Companies Face Steep Fines For Apparent Violations After Tropical Storm Isaias Response

There’s also a sense Westchester needs to be more of a “squeaky wheel,” Aiello reported. The county represents only 10% of the Con Edison customer base.

“We have to recognize that in Westchester we have to be a little louder and a little more assertive in order for us to make sure we get the attention, and I think we are getting more of it,” Latimer said.

Keeping the heat on the utility companies to keep improving their storm response.

These recommendations now go to the state Public Service Commission.

“Strengthening reliability, storm preparation, and restoring customers quickly are top priorities. Our nearly three-year partnership with United Westchester concerning optimizing mobilization and response efforts to major storms is productively improving our collaborative efforts to work better and smarter together in the face of climate change,” a Con Edison spokesperson said.

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