With over 400,000 New Yorkers still without power three days after Tropical Storm Isaias ripped through the state, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer Friday made a personal call to the Chief Executive Officers of three Hudson Valley electric companies, including John McAvoy from Consolidated Edison (ConEd) which also owns Orange and Rockland Utilities (O&R), Charles Freni from Central Hudson, Carl Taylor from New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG), to demand answers on what is being done to address the power outages and bring the lights back throughout the Hudson Valley. Schumer explained that in addition to not having power, thousands of residents throughout the Hudson Valley have been frustrated by the lack of power, clarity, communication and amount of inaccurate information coming from electric companies, and called for the electric companies to improve communication with their clientele that have been left in the dark for days in the midst of a pandemic.
“The arrival of Isaias in the middle of a global pandemic devastated an already-recovering Hudson Valley, further magnifying the effects of the crisis and setting the state back in the recovery process. Though crews on the ground are working hard throughout the week, many customers are getting inaccurate, little, or no information at all about the ongoing situation. However, New Yorkers are resilient, and I have every confidence that we will come back from each setback this year stronger than ever,” said Senator Schumer. “But the first step for New York in rebuilding after the devastation of Isaias is to get the power back on and get some accurate information, which is why I personally called the top brass at Hudson Valley’s electric companies to demand to know what the heck is going on, and why so many New Yorkers are left in the dark, both literally and figuratively, three days after the storm and most importantly, get the power back on immediately.”
Schumer said he was especially concerned with reports that many New Yorkers have been without power for three days, and some have been forced to move in with other family members for the time being, risking exposure to COVID-19 for which they are considered high-risk. Additionally, the senator noted that the lack of power is magnifying hardships already present from the COVID crisis, such as making it more difficult for unemployed individuals to find an internet connection to apply to jobs, requiring families to throw away spoiled, refrigerated food at a time when food insecurity is at an all-time high, and forcing newly-reopened, struggling businesses to close again.
On the call, Schumer also asked whether or not the companies were complying with the findings and recommendations from state investigations after Winter Storms Riley and Quinn. The senator called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2018 to launch an investigation into why there were always constant, long-lasting power outages after major storms in New York. Schumer said at the time that it was unacceptable that New Yorkers were forced to become accustomed to week-long power outages, and demanded that this time the companies take the results of the investigation into account and improve their responses.