Cuomo Slams ConEd, LIPA as Utilities Fear Nor'Easter Challenges

By Jess Wisloski and Jill Colvin  on November 5, 2012 8:25pm

MIDTOWN — Governor Andrew Cuomo ripped into Con Edison and the Long Island Power Authority for their "lack of performance" Monday, a week after Hurricane Sandy's catastrophic appearance left customers shivering and in the dark with another storm on the way.

"The progress is unacceptable. To say that I am angry, that I am disappointed, that I am frustrated… is the understatement of the decade,"  said a bristling Cuomo, who unleashed the tirade Monday afternoon from his Midtown offices.

"Yes it was a storm, yes it is a catastrophic storm, but they should have been prepared,” he added, “The utility companies have not performed adequately ... They will be held accountable for their lack of performance.”

Cuomo raged against the utilities, skewering their response as out-of-touch and sometimes downright inane.

Of some responses that customers have been given to go online to log a request for repairs, he thundered, "If the power is off, how do you expect [them] to go online?"

"They ask people to call [with problems.] The phone is off! That’s the problem!” he said.

Cuomo said he planned to review the performances of both ConEd and LIPA's performance, adding, “I am a reasonable person and I want to give the utilities a chance to make their side of the case.”

Meanwhile ConEd officials defended the progress their crews made in power restoration over the past few days, saying the wrath of Sandy was quadruple that of Hurricane Irene. 

"To date we have restored 820,000 of 960,000 customers," said John Miksad, senior vice president of electric operations at the utility, speaking of customers in Westchester, as well. "The 800,000 we've restored is the equivalent to four Irenes, which was our largest storm before Sandy," he said.

"I'm sure the governor and others are echoing that displeasure [of customers]," he added, "We understand that, it's been a long haul for them, in the cold and in the dark, we're doing everything we can do. I don't know of a way we could have done this any faster. I think we're moving as fast as humanly possible."

Most recent figures showed New York City restoration's at 86 percent overall, with 80,000 customers still without electricity.  By Monday evening, roughly 30,000 in Queens were still without power, along with 22,500 in Brooklyn, 7,000 in the Bronx, and 13,000 in Staten Island, according to Con Edison's Storm Center outages site.

The hardest hit areas — Brooklyn and Staten Island — still faced major challenges due to ruined or damaged infrastructure and housing. Gerritsen Channel, Red Hook and Hamilton Beach in Queens all have "extensive damage to their homes and basements" and were not ready to immediately reconnect, he said.

A task force did a block-by-block patrol of parts of Staten Island on Monday, and found that "90 percent of the homes had damage to their homes and could not be reconnected."

But Miksad said that the mid-week Nor'easter could wreak havoc on their work to date.

"It will slow us down," he said. "It will undo some of the repairs we've made. I worry about that a lot."

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