‘This has to end.’ Gov. Cuomo, LI delegation targets utilities after storm failures
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was joined by members of the Long Island delegation Wednesday where he announced legislation that he says will end abuse by utility companies that have been “bullying the people of New York” in the wake of storms that caused extended blackouts.
On a conference call, the governor laid out his intentions to change the cap on penalties utility companies face, ensure that the infrastructure reverts to the ratepayers if a franchise is revoked and cap rate-payer funded salaries for CEOs.
“Every time we have had a storm, we have had excessive delays in getting power back,” said Gov. Cuomo, pointing specifically at downstate New York. “We pay the utility companies to be prepared during a storm.”
The governor says penalties on utility companies that do not restore power swiftly are limited to $100,000 by incident – or what he says has become “a cost of doing business.”
“It’s cheaper for the utility companies to pay these limited capped penalties than change their behavior,” said Gov. Cuomo. “Change the law. Remove the cap. They should pay a penalty that is commensurate with the penalty. Period.”
The governor says the bill allows the state Public Service Commission to specifically review American Water and review two options: The municipalization of American Water or the revocation of the franchise.
“This has to end. They are not too big to fail. They are not going to bully consumers. It’s over,” he said. “Consumers are not captive of the utilities.”
The governor says the utilities are very power in the legislature and the law “is greatly going to disrupt” them.
Sen. Jim Gaughran, (D-5th Senate District) called the bill “a major win for New Yorkers and a major win for Long Islanders.”
“Come next year, we are going to pass this bill,” he said.