Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Westchester) announced that his bill (A.5556), which would help ensure that customers are better able to formally complain about power outages, has been signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo (Chapter 521 of 2013). 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.
“I am very pleased for Westchester families that Governor Cuomo signed this important legislation,” said Assemblyman Buchwald. “Superstorm Sandy devastated our infrastructure, caused power outages throughout Westchester, and exposed a serious problem with the process of restoring utilities following a natural disaster. This legislation will help cut down on the length of service disruptions and better prepare us for future disasters.”
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 and improve communication, Assemblyman Buchwald noted.
Earlier this year in January, Assemblyman Buchwald testified at a hearing in Westchester of Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission on Utility Storm Preparation and Response. Buchwald recommended this legislation to improve oversight and communications between utility companies and costumers.
This bipartisan legislation was sponsored in the State Senate by Senator Jack Martins (R-Mineola), who represents a Long Island constituency that was also significantly impacted by Superstorm Sandy.
“The loss of gas and power is more than an inconvenience; it’s a stressful situation that can have potentially life threatening consequences, especially when it’s for an extended period of time,” said Senator Martins. “The need for this legislation is even more important during the winter months when families need to keep their homes heated to stay warm. On behalf of Long Island and Westchester families, I want to thank Assemblyman Buchwald for working alongside me to help make this bill become law.”