Nor’easter: Six years after Sandy, Con Ed under fire again (lohud.)

lohud: In a 2013 position paper, the Utility Workers Union of America took a scathing view of utility companies' response to Sandy, particularly Con Edison. 

Article from lohud. 

Six years after coming under fire for its response to Superstorm Sandy — and despite spending $1 billion on upgrades — Consolidated Edison is taking heat again for leaving customers in the dark.

Three days after Winter Storm Riley, 70,000 homes and businesses remained without power Monday night, half of them Con Edison customers.

Con Edison calls it the fifth-worst storm in company history, while Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi said it “parallels the damage from Hurricane Sandy.”

For thousands of residents and officials, it was deja vu all over again.

“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.”

That was supposed to change in the wake Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. Utility companies, primarily Con Edison, the largest electric company in the Lower Hudson Valley, came under attack for its shoddy response to Sandy.

After Friday’s Nor’easter, elected officials and residents from damaged neighborhoods throughout the county complained that utility crews had yet to respond to fallen trees and downed wires on Monday, three days after the storm.

Westchester County government officials, who did not declare a state of emergency until Sunday afternoon, said they had expected the utilities to move more swiftly.

“We thought that things might have moved a little bit more quickly,” Joan McDonald, Westchester County executive director of operations, said at a press conference Monday. “We look at it very carefully and we don’t take it lightly.”

The Sandy reports

In a 2013 position paper, the Utility Workers Union of America took a scathing view of utility companies’ response to Sandy, particularly Con Edison.

The union’s report maintained that the company’s distribution system was “in a weakened condition” due to a labor lockout for part of its workforce earlier in 2012, and that out-of-state mutual aid workers sent in after Sandy lacked “fundamental training.”

“Con Edison appears to operate its electrical distribution system based on a policy of ‘run it until it fails,'” the report said. “The system features aging, and in spots, deteriorating physical infrastructure.”

“The human infrastructure is likewise in need of repair,” it said. “The company lacks sufficient manpower to conduct needed preemptive maintenance and related repairs.”

For New York State officials, the response to Sandy included a report from the Moreland Commission on Utility Storm Preparation and Response, which was created to review the utility companies’ response and released its own report in June 2013.

The Moreland report said, in part, that the utilities should perform “a health assessment” of it’s assets, including poles and transformers “to define and prioritize hardening programs and maximize the effectiveness of initial capital investments.”

 “The commission believes this approach combined with new design criteria forhardening key components will better position New York during future storm events.”