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The Berkshires

Public Service Commission meets after Sandy

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Albany/HV: Public Service Commission meets after Sandy
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Since Superstorm Sandy, Governor Cuomo has been vocal about how slow he thought the state's power companies were in their response. Tuesday, the regulatory agency responsible for overseeing the state's utilities met for their first time since the storm. Our Beth Croughan has more.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- "I commend the idea of a Moreland Commission," said Public Service Commissioner Patricia Acampora at their Tuesday meeting.

For the first time since Sandy and since Governor Cuomo created an investigatory panel to study the response, preparation and management of New York's power companies, the State's Public Service Commission met. The government agency is responsible for regulating the utilities.

"Every time we have a storm, we have a lessons learned. When we had Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee we did make recommendations. Do we know that those recommendations, if some of them were implemented," the Commissioner asked staff.

The Chief of Electric Distribution Michael Worden told the Commissioners many were, but some still being efforted when the Superstorm hit. A storm, he reported, caused more than $32 billion in damage and left more than two million people without power.

"Con Edison, LIPA and O&R also experienced another couple hundred thousand outages on November 2nd due to a nor’easter, which obviously hampered restoration activities. In all, over 7,000 electric line and tree crews from as far away as California, Texas, British Columbia, Canada, were used for restoration," said Worden.

The commission has committed resources to help with investigation efforts in response to a request from the Moreland Commission Co-Chairs. And according to General Counsel, has agreed to suspend their storm study until afterwards.

"It's also my hope that they move forward expeditiously so that we can, the department and the commission can carry out its recommendations and can carry out and implement lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy before there is potentially another storm," said Commissioner Maureen Harris.

In the meantime, the Department of Public Service is working with utilities on waivers for late-payment charges and some that are considering providing a one-time credit for customers with long-term outages. Con Edison has already filed a proposal.

Those details are expected to be worked out at the December meeting.

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