A top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo again criticized New York State Electric & Gas on Monday, knocking the utility for its response to Superstorm Sandy.
Howard Glaser, Cuomo’s director of state operations, said in an email Monday to Gannett’s Albany Bureau that NYSEG’s communication with the governor’s office has improved, but said its performance in restoring power has been lacking.
“They are communicating but the performance is abysmal,” Glaser said of NYSEG, adding that outages for Orange & Rockland Utilities customers are “just as big a problem if not more so.”
Last week, emails obtained by media outlets contained harsh words from Glaser to the utility’s president, criticizing the company for being unresponsive to Cuomo’s office and for “silence, darkness and an utter lack of NYSEG presence whatsoever” in northern Westchester County. Cuomo has also warned utilities that poor performance in responding to Sandy could lead the state to pull their certification in New York.
On Monday, Glaser said NYSEG did not have any of its own crews on hand to deal with downed or damaged trees. “They were entirely dependent on getting tree crews from outside resources,” he wrote.
As of 3 p.m., NYSEG had 22,832 customers without power. Orange and Rockland had
35,384 27,544 as of 4 p.m., according to the utility.
In response, a NYSEG spokesman said the utility “shares Governor Cuomo’s concern for safe, efficient and timely restoration of power.”
“We also agree with his observation that the damage from Hurricane Sandy was unprecedented,” Clayton Ellis, the spokesman, wrote in an email. He said “it’s industry standard as well as a best practice to contract for vegetation management services.”
Ellis said NYSEG has restored 77 percent of its customers who lost power in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties, as well as 84 percent of its customers in Sullivan, Orange, Delaware and Ulster counties. He said 550 line and tree crews are on the job from all over the country, as well as Nova Scotia.
“We expect to restore service to the vast majority of customers who are without power by midnight Wednesday,” Ellis said.
Michael Donovan, a spokesman for Orange & Rockland, said two representatives from the state Public Service Commission — which regulates the state’s utilities — have been present for “update meetings” each morning.
“We are on the same page as Governor Cuomo: we are pulling out all the stops to work as hard as possible to get all out customers back in power as quickly as possible,” Donovan said.
Glaser also said expressed concern about Consolidated Edison, which supplies power to much of southern Westchester County.
In addition, we are concerned that (Con Ed) has not been focused enough on the entire region,” he wrote.