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Public hearings set for RG&E, NYSEG windstorm investigation

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Mon, Mar 27th 2017 04:15 pm

Cuomo-directed investigation into utilities' preparation for and response to windstorm that left more than 100,000 in the dark

The New York State Department of Public Service announced it will hold four public statement hearings to receive public comment on Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation's (RG&E) and New York State Electric & Gas Corp.'s (NYSEG) preparation for and response to the severe windstorms that swept through parts of Western New York and the Finger Lakes, causing widespread power outages on March 8 and 9.

On March 11, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo directed the department to conduct an investigation after the storm left more than 100,000 customers without power in Western New York and the Finger Lakes.

Following widespread power outages across the state after Superstorm Sandy, Cuomo directed the department and the Public Service Commission to strengthen their oversight of utilities under a new law that took effect in 2013. Utilities are now required to develop comprehensive storm-response plans that are approved annually by the PSC.

The PSC approved RG&E's and NYSEG's plans last year, and it approved updates at its March 9 session.

To promote effective emergency preparation and response, the rules require an assessment of electric utility performance after a significant outage, and hold utilities accountable for timely power restorations. The PSC can review the response of utility companies to ensure they are adhering to approved emergency response plans, and can assess penalties, based on the results of the investigation.

As part of its investigation, the department will conduct public statement hearings so that affected RG&E and NYSEG customers may present public comments in response to the following questions:

  • How were you affected by the outages?
  • Do you think you received timely, accurate and adequate information from your utility company about what was happening before, during and after the service outages?
  • Did you attempt to contact your utility for information or assistance immediately before, during or after the outages, and did you get the response you were requesting?
  • What are your overall impressions about how your utility responded to the outages?
  • What were your reasons for those impressions?
  • What are your recommendations about actions you believe your utility should or should not have taken before, during and after the service outages?
  • What actions do you recommend the department take in light of all that you know regarding these events?

Public Statement Hearings

Interested members of the public are invited to attend the four public statement hearings at which time they may provide their comments. The public statement hearings will be held as follows:

2 and 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 12

  • Southside Commerce Center Auditorium, 300 Gleed Ave., East Aurora, NY 14052

 

2 and 6 p.m., Thursday, April 13

  • Monroe Community College, Brighton Campus, Building 3, Forum Room, 1000 E. Henrietta Road, Rochester, NY 14623
  • Driving directions to the Brighton Campus can be found at http://www.monroecc.edu/about-mcc/locations-maps/brighton-campus/. Once on campus, follow signs to parking lot M. Enter The R. Thomas Flynn Student Center (Building 3) via the North Entrance closest to the pond. The forum is located in the lobby as you enter the building.

Those wishing to comment will have an opportunity to make a statement on the record at the public statement hearings. It is not necessary to make an appointment in advance, or to present written material to speak at the hearing. Persons will be called to speak after completing a request card. Each public statement hearing will remain open for a minimum of one hour and will continue until everyone wishing to speak has been heard or other reasonable arrangements have been made to include their comments in the record. A verbatim transcript of the hearing will be made for inclusion in the record of this matter.

Other Ways to Comment

For those who cannot attend or prefer not to speak at a public statement hearing, there are several other ways to provide comments to the department. Comments should refer to Matter 17-00540.

•Internet or mail: Go to www.dps.ny.gov, click on "Search," enter the Matter 17-00540, and then click on "Post Comments" at the top of the page; or email comments to the secretary at secretary@dps.ny.gov. Alternatively, comments may be mailed or delivered to Secretary Kathleen H. Burgess at the New York State Department of Public Service, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12223-1350.

•Toll-free opinion line: Call the department's opinion line at 1-800-335-2120. This number is set up to take comments about pending cases from in-state callers, 24 hours a day. These comments are not transcribed verbatim, but a summary is provided to the department.

Comments submitted via alternate means are requested by Tuesday, May 9. Comments will become part of the record and be reported to the department for its consideration.

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