Over the past several months, much ire has been directed toward the New York State Electric and Gas Corporation, which provides power for many residents in Putnam and parts of Westchester County.
Now, state Sen. Terrence Murphy wants to see the lights turned off on their operation in New York.
Murphy, a Republican representing the 40th district, wrote to Department of Public Service Commission (PSC) chair John Rhodes urging the PSC to reopen the region to find another power producer that could be more capable than NYSEG, which has faced a torrent of the criticism in the wake of battering storms.
“It is clear NYSEG cannot deliver reliable power to its customers,” Murphy wrote.
Murphy said there has been an endless series of service interruptions the past couple of years, arguing drastic steps need to be taken because NYSEG customers have lost faith in their power provider.
On March 2, the Winter Storm Riley, which brought high winds and more than a foot of snow, resulted in long durations of the lights being out due to snapped power lines and flooding. Repair crews were not responsive and many customers were given inaccurate restoration times, Murphy’s press release stated. Then on March 7, another winter storm, Quinn, crushed the region and more customers were left without power for days with no firm idea of when the lights would be turned on.
During that time, state and local officials across the board slammed NYSEG and other power providers for the multiple days that customers were without power.
Since those two powerful storms, Murphy believes customers have lost power due to insignificant storms, with some residents in Somers, North Salem, and Lewisboro losing power for the 10th time this year.
While the state senate was in session, Murphy, chairman of the New York State Senate’s Committee on Investigations and Government Operations, authored a bill aimed at reforming how utility companies respond to power outages. The legislation, which would include enhanced vegetation management and look into reimbursement policies, passed the senate, but was never taken up by the state assembly.
“My office continues to work with dozens of constituents who have sought reimbursements from NYSEG for their losses from this year’s storms and have yet to receive an adequate response,” Murphy said in a statement. “How much more do we have to go through? Residents and our partners in government are at the end of their rope and understandably so. If NYSEG cannot provide safe and reliable power then the PSC must find someone who can.”
Putnam Valley Supervisor Sam Oliverio, who has been critical of NYSEG, doesn’t think the company should stop operating in the state, but should be given more flexibility to cut down trees to avoid downed power lines. He thinks any power company that would come into this area would have trouble keeping the lights on during nasty weather.
“We’re not going to solve this problem switching companies,” Oliverio, in an interview, said. “No matter who is here, they still have to deal with the tree problem.”