County Executive George Latimer and New York State Assemblyman David Buchwald Announce the Uniting of Westchester Intergovernmental Officials to Respond to Extended Power Outages
White Plains, NY – Nearly 70 leaders from all levels of government in Westchester met on Friday to forge a unified response to the extended power outages the County experienced this month. The meeting was hosted by Westchester County Executive George Latimer and organized by New York State Assemblyman David Buchwald.
The elected officials and representatives who gathered at the Westchester County Center included mayors and supervisors from across Westchester, along with County representatives, State legislators, representatives from Congressional offices, and delegates from the Governor, Attorney General and State Comptroller. They quickly got to work on determining the first steps needed to take action in light of the failed response and flawed communication by utility companies during the March Nor’easters.
The storm response efforts of ConEd and NYSEG have been roundly criticized for placing a harsh burden on the health, safety and livelihoods of area residents. In the wake of the Nor’easter storms of March 2 and 7 (Winter Storms Reily and Quinn), tens of thousands of county residents went without electricity for up to or even over a week. Many residents experienced flawed communications from their utility company – which led to confusion on their part as how to best respond to their individual power outage.
At the meeting, the municipalities and offices collectively identified a series of issues related to storm response and power restoration that need to be addressed. Among the many topics discussed were communication and accuracy of information provided to the public, sharing of information and coordination with government officials, as well as responses to critical facilities and vulnerable customers.
The group agreed to provide feedback through a questionnaire with responses being compiled into a useable format.
Latimer said: “This meeting was a productive first step in turning our collective anger at these utility companies into collective action. I thank Assemblyman Buchwald for his efforts to convene this meeting aimed at providing results for the people of Westchester. As the surveys each municipality received come back, we will have an even better picture of the next steps needed.”
Buchwald said: “I am greatly encouraged to see elected officials at all levels roll up their sleeves and get to work on changing the unacceptable utility companies’ response to these storms. Westchester residents are fed up with the status quo. We, as the public’s representatives, will endeavor tirelessly to address the repeated extended power outages that have plagued our region.”
The meeting culminated with a plan to quickly collect and compile feedback from the municipalities and government offices to evaluate specific steps for utility companies take to prevent further issues related to power outages.