ConEd and other utilities are under fire after a recent spate of severe weather left thousands of customers without power for days on end. Winter Storm Riley, which pummeled the Mid-Atlantic and New England, left an estimated 900,000 customers without power. In New York, 70,000 homes and businesses lost power, half of them Con Edison customers.
Con-Ed was quick to cite the intensity of Winter Storm Riley, calling it “the fifth-worst in company history.” This has provided little comfort to residents who are now preparing for a potential fourth Nor’easter that is predicted to pummel the tri-state area on the first day of spring.
“There’s no learning curve for Con Ed,” said Mamaroneck resident Adrienne Weiss Harrison. “They never do better the next time. It’s like this after every storm.”
Westchester County Executive George Latimer called for the resignation of the heads of Con Edison and NYSEG. “Both Con Edison and NYSEG have fumbled the recovery effort and we, as county residents, can no longer stand by and accept this.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo also criticized the response, stating on a conference call, ”I’m not satisfied… The PSC [state Public Service Commission] will do a full review of their response. If we find that their response was not satisfactory, I will make sure that the PSC levies as severe a sanction as the PSC can.”
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the UWUA has been consistently outspoken about Con Edison’s need to invest in manpower and preemptive maintenance and repairs, journalists and industry specialists are beginning to notice our history of prescient warnings.
A recent article in lohud. cited UWUA’s careful, and often scathing analysis in a 2013 position paper assessing utility company responses to Sandy, particularly Con Edison’s.
UWUA’s report maintained that, “Con Edison appears to operate its electrical distribution system based on a policy of ‘run it until it fails’…The system features aging, and in spots, deteriorating physical infrastructure.”
Moreover, Con Ed’s distribution system was in a “weakened condition” due to its 2012 lockout of Local 1-2 members. Out-of-state aid workers were ill-prepared to meet the challenges of Sandy and lacked the “fundamental training” that these emergencies require.
“The human infrastructure is likewise in need of repair,” the report said. “The company lacks sufficient manpower to conduct needed preemptive maintenance and related repairs.”