Attorney General Andrew Cuomo Submits Comments On Public Service Commission's Draft Report On 2006 Queens Power Outages

NEW YORK, NY (February 1, 2007) — Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday submitted comments to the Public Service Commission (PSC) on its January 17, 2007 draft report on the 2006 Queens power outages. The power outages affected approximately 174,000 Queens residents.

The Attorney General concurred with the PSC draft report’s findings that “Con Edison’s performance was unacceptable and a gross disservice to its customers, and that the company should have known the severity of the impact.”

Cuomo said, “The PSC’s draft report supplies information from which only one conclusion can be reached: that Con Edison’s mismanagement caused the cascading outages that severely damaged a good portion of its network. This resulted in unnecessary suffering and economic losses to residents and businesses.”

Cuomo continued, “Con Edison’s explanation for the outages as the coincidence of a few random equipment failures is tantamount to saying ‘stuff happens,’ and does not address the root causes of the outages. Con Edison not only failed to prevent the conditions that made the power outages possible, but also responded poorly when they occurred. Its repeated mistakes and pattern of neglect are unacceptable.”

Cuomo stated, “The absolute number one priority of the PSC must be to ensure that Con Ed fully compensates victims of the utility’s negligence. Residents and businesses should not suffer economic losses while the company that caused those losses reaps large earnings. Furthermore, the PSC must prevent Con Edison from saddling customers with costs caused by its own deficient performance.”

The Attorney General’s comments also criticize the PSC draft report for failing to address its own deficiencies in overseeing Con Edison, and for neglecting to provide specific details about the decision making of Con Edison’s senior managers at crucial times.

Cuomo asserted, “The draft PSC report leaves some glaring questions unanswered: where was the PSC? Where was the regulatory agency charged with overseeing Con Edison during the years leading up to the outages? The report sheds little light on these questions, but the residents and businesses of northwestern Queens and the public demand answers.”

Cuomo continued, “And while the draft report rightly condemns Con Edison’s senior management for deficient performance, it does not delineate who made what decisions at what time — and with what information. These details are necessary to fully understand the events, hold management accountable, and develop strategies to avoid similar outages in the future.”

The Attorney General’s comments contained 24 specific recommendations for Con Edison and the PSC. Among other things, the Attorney General recommends that the PSC determine the full extent of Con Edison’s mismanagement, quickly address compensation for victims — including requiring Con Edison to reimburse any resident for equipment damaged by the outages — and prohibit Con Edison from passing along the costs of reimbursement to customers.

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