Bill Inspired By Duration of Sandy Power Outages
Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Westchester) announced that his bill, which would help ensure that customers are given a stronger voice to formally complain about power outages, has passed the New York State Assembly (A.5556). This legislation would for the first time require that the Public Service Commission include a proper complaint form on its website, and explicitly allow the duration of a power outage to be a basis for filing a complaint with the Commission.
“One of the crippling effects of Superstorm Sandy was the unacceptably long power outage response times that stretched across Westchester,” Assemblyman Buchwald said. “Families felt helpless, frustrated and cold, and they didn’t have a way to make their particular complaint known. This bill takes a step to correct one of the more preventable mistakes made by the power companies in the days and weeks following Sandy.”
The Public Service Commission oversees New York’s utility companies, and by tracking complaints regarding utility response times, the commission can better work to address reoccurring problems, improve communication and be more prepared for future natural disasters, Assemblyman Buchwald noted.
“Chappaqua had one of the longest wait times to get power restored, making the destruction of Sandy not only physical, but financial as well,” Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce Co-Founder Rob Greenstein said. “Without power, local businesses weren’t able to step in to help the community in all the ways they would have liked to, whether it was delivering a hot pizza to a family or offering a warm place to rest and charge your phone. We thank Assemblyman Buchwald today for bringing us one step closer to bridging the communication gap with utility companies in times of natural disaster.”
Earlier this year in January, Assemblyman Buchwald testified at the State Moreland Commission hearing in Westchester and recommended this legislation to improve oversight and communications between utility companies and costumers.
This bipartisan legislation will now be sent to the state Senate, where it is being sponsored by Senator Jack Martins (R-Mineola), for approval.