Yesterday there was a power outage in Edgemont impacting over 100 families. Power was out during the morning and early afternoon hours after a tree limb came down and tripped a fuse. Many of the people whose power was out worried because they were preparing for Friday evening Passover or Good Friday dinners and were expecting guests. They didn't know how long the outage would last and if their plans would be ruined.
This outage reminded some of the series of power outages that we experienced in recent years that impacted residents for days/weeks! People were furious - freezing temperatures. Elderly at risk due to lack of power. Roads that were closed. Etc...
After that storm Town Supervisors, Mayors, the County Executive, Governor, State Legislators met and came up with recommendations that we hope could result in fewer problems the next time there are major power outages in our area.
The NYS Public Service Commission met two days ago and took some action steps that could be helpful Some of the recommendations made by the coalition of officials could become law. Assemblyman David Buchwald provided me and other members of the coalition with the following info highlighting the recommendations recommended by the PSC.
The 170-page report adopted by the Public Service Commission references the United Westchester report 28 times. More importantly, their report provides a series of 94 recommendations that, after comments from the utility companies, have the force of law backing them up. Among the recommendations:
Con Edison and NYSEG file reports with the Department that includes a plan, budget, and timeline for increasing internal overhead line FTEs. Con Edison’s plan needs to describe how it will increase its internal overhead line workforce by 30 to 50 FTEs and NYSEG’s plan needs to describe how it will increase its internal overhead line workforce by 100 to 150 FTEs.
NYSEG re-evaluate the appropriate number of damage assessors needed in each division and provide a strategic plan to the Department that details how NYSEG will increase the number of damage assessors to an appropriate level for large storm events and revise its ERP accordingly.
The electric utilities update ERPs to provide regional ETR information on a county basis and provide local ETR information on a town/municipality basis. [The recommendation thereby would end ConEd's practice of lumping the Bronx and Westchester together in Estimated Times to Restoration.]
For outages expected to last longer than 48 hours, all electric utilities will provide regional and local ETRs applicable to 95 percent or more [up from 90%] of the affected customers and eliminate references to communicate the global ETR once all regional ETRs have been issued. The ERPs will reflect this modification.
In addition to the Rye Playland staging area, Con Edison, in consultation with Westchester County, establish three additional staging areas. The locations shall be geographically diverse to facilitate daily morning deployment of external crews in each of the four Westchester County quadrants and be included in Con Edison’s ERP.
All electric utilities identify what work is occurring on a town/municipality basis to enable municipal liaisons to have better visibility on the restoration progress, which will improve communication and coordination with local officials and other stakeholders.
Con Edison develop and implement a revised Municipal Liaison Program that includes, at a minimum, enhancements made to training and any new tools to be provided to liaisons, e.g. increased access to real-time data and level of authority. Con Edison’s ERP will incorporate this modification.
All electric utilities exclusively use operator-assisted systems with line-muting capability for the municipal calls to minimize disruptions and to streamline the calls, specifically for the roll call and question-and-answer session. The ERPs will incorporate this modification.
All electric utilities begin distributing dry ice within 24 hours of the start of restoration when outages are anticipated to last more than 48 hours. The ERPs will incorporate this modification.
All electric utilities consult with county EOCs to develop geographically appropriate locations for dry ice distribution. This includes establishing a list of potential distribution locations before an event. The ERPs will incorporate this modification.
Speaking of the force of law, the Commission issued an order, including against Coned and NYSEG, that initiates the process to fine the companies for violations of their own emergency response plans. As a reminder, these fines, if assessed, will come from the profits distributable to shareholders, rather than from ratepayers. The Commission also issued (by a vote of 4 to 1) an Order to Show Cause to bring a special proceeding against NYSEG for its allegedly repeated failure to properly implement its storm response plan.