The Northern Westchester Examiner

Puglisi Calls for Con Ed to Split Up in PSC Complaint

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Con Edison trucks were few and far between following Hurricane Sandy, according to Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi.

Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi is calling on the New York State Public Service Commission to break up Con Edison following the utility company’s slow response to power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Puglisi maintained Con Edison proved once again it was ill-equipped and ill-prepared to handle 4.2 million customers in Westchester and Rockland counties and New York City and should be forced to separate into three separate entities.

“We can’t and shouldn’t compete for power restoration services with New York City nor with Rockland County. The monopoly of Con Edison, Inc. needs to be split up and the PSC is the agency that can and must take action and achieve this necessary goal to best serve our area of New York State,” Puglisi said. “Con Edison, Inc. is too big and needs to be broken up into at least three separate (new) companies.”

It took Con Edison two weeks to fully restore power to 5,000 homes in Cortlandt, which is one-third of the town. Four schools were dark for a week and 70 roads were closed for several days due to downed wires and trees.

“We all understand the magnitude of this hurricane. It was the largest and most forceful storm that hit our area in many decades,” Puglisi said. “Therefore, in the first few days of the aftermath of this storm we all knew it would be awhile until everyone’s power was restored. However, when it became five days, six, seven and then 10 days and two weeks before everyone had power restored it became evident that Con Edison, our sole electric company, had not prepared properly, was disorganized and did not have enough crews to service all the communities in need.”

Kevin Burke, chairman and CEO of Con Edison, apologized for the long days customers had to endure during an appearance in White Plains a week after the hurricane. He called Sandy the worst storm the company had experienced in its history.

Puglisi stressed she was not pointing blame at Con Edison workers in the field, but at management, such as Burke, who in 2011 earned $10.9 million, and Robert Hoglund, C.F.O. and senior vice president, who made $2.5 million in 2011.

She also insisted that Con Edison not raise rates on customers. “Do not pass along incompetency onto the impacted consumers by this storm,” she remarked. “At their own admission they only had 200 Con Edison crews available for 45 communities in Westchester County. Obviously, not enough crews for the 250,000 homes/businesses/schools/institutions without power after the hurricane in the county. They did not learn from their mistakes.”

Before the next storm hits, Puglisi said Con Edison needs to begin planning by evaluating every municipality for necessary improvements; making repairs to sagging wires and leaning utility poles; lining up outside companies for assistance; and better communicating with local officials.

“Only Con Edison can restore the power and take care of the downed wires. It is their poles and wires,” Puglisi said. “The town crews cannot touch the wires. We have to wait for Con Edison crews. We are at the mercy of Con Edison!”

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