With Hurricane Season In Full Swing, New Law Takes Effect In NY To Improve Storm Response Efforts By Utilities

Originally published in Harlem World on July 25, 2022.

Last week, Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation by Senator Anna M. Kaplan (D-North Hills) and Assemblyman Nader J. Sayegh (D-Yonkers), S.932a/A.3258, to improve storm response efforts.

They want to do this by utilities and ensure that problems seen during the failed response to Tropical Storm Isaias in 2020 are not repeated in future emergency response situations.

Senator Anna M. Kaplan said “During PSEG-LI’s failed response to Tropical Storm Isaias, we learned a lot of hard lessons about the importance of thoroughly planning for emergencies, especially coordination between all parties engaged in the restoration and recovery effort. I spoke to so many crews on the ground in the aftermath of the storm who were frustrated by what they saw as a total lack of coordination between other crews and other utilities who were needed on site in order to complete a repair and restore service. By planning ahead, we can ensure a better, more efficient response to the next big storm that hits our Island.”

Following Tropical Storm Isaias, many impacted individuals, as well as many crews responding to the storm expressed frustration over the lack of communication that was occurring between the various entities that were responsible for the storm clean-up and restoration effort. It was a common occurrence that crews would show up prepared to fix downed lines, or remove downed trees, only to find themselves unable to complete their work as they waited for another crew to perform tasks that were needed to be done before they could undertake their own task. Workers who were in desperately short supply wasted precious hours waiting for assistance that in many cases never arrived, stalling the recovery effort and leaving residents without power, phone, internet, and cable for far longer than necessary.

The bill, S.932a/A.3258, requires LIPA and electric corporations across New York State to include within their emergency response plans how communication and coordination of efforts shall occur between the electric corporation, their employees and hired crews, mutual aid crews, other utilities, local governments, and any other entity performing services to assist such electric company.

The new law takes effect immediately.