Eliot Engel

03/08/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/08/2018 16:47

Engel Calls for Refunds to ConEd Customers Following 'Completely Inadequate' Response to Winter Storm Riley

Engel Calls for Refunds to ConEd Customers Following 'Completely Inadequate' Response to Winter Storm Riley

'It is time for ConEd to stop worrying about its profit margins and start worrying about its customers, who have literally been left in the dark.'

Westchester, NY-Congressman Eliot L. Engel is calling on Con Edison to do right by the thousands of customers who were 'literally left in the dark' for days following Winter Storm Riley.

In a letter to ConEd Chairman John McAvoy, Engel called the utility company's response to Riley 'completely inadequate' and said refunds should be given to those who have been left without power for a prolonged period of time in the wake of the storm.

'I have participated in a number of ConEd conference calls over the last few days that have sounded remarkably similar to the ones that followed SuperStorm Sandy,' Engel wrote. 'In both instances, ConEd provided little information and even less action.

'Hundreds of thousands of residents have been negatively impacted by the storm, and many are still without power nearly one week after the storm hit. After investing one billion dollars in upgrading, strengthening, and creating a more resilient system following Sandy, I am uncertain why ConEd has once again fallen short. This failure suggests that ConEd either did not follow the plan that was supposed to be put in place, or the plan itself, including upgrades to ConEd's system, was woefully insufficient.'

The Congressman goes on to write that in addition to poor power restoration, customers were also saddled with a flawed update system that often provided misleading or incorrect information. The Congressman is therefore calling on ConEd to provide customers who have been without power for more than 24 hours with a refund on their next utility bill.

'In addition, it is imperative that ConEd reevaluate and improve upon its response plan before the next major weather event, and I request that you report back to me when you have an updated plan,' Engel concludes.

Full text of the Congressman's letter can be found below:

John McAvoy, CEO

Consolidated Edison Company

4 Irving Place

New York, New York 10003

Dear Mr. McAvoy:

I write regarding Con Edison's response to Winter Storm Riley, which has been completely inadequate for my constituents in both Westchester and the Bronx. I have participated in a number of ConEd conference calls over the last few days that have sounded remarkably similar to the ones that followed SuperStorm Sandy. In both instances, ConEd provided little information and even less action.

Hundreds of thousands of residents have been negatively impacted by the storm, and many are still without power nearly one week after the storm hit. After investing one billion dollars in upgrading, strengthening, and creating a more resilient system following Superstorm Sandy, I am uncertain why ConEd has once again fallen short. This failure suggests that ConEd either did not follow the plan that was supposed to be put in place, or the plan itself, including upgrades to ConEd's system, was woefully insufficient.

In addition to issues with power restoration, my constituents have also been forced to deal with a flawed update system from ConEd. The interactive map on ConEd's website provides customers with an estimated time of restoration, but some customers have seen their time of restoration continually delayed, while others were told power had been restored even though it was not. These incorrect updates only serve to make an already frustrating situation even more difficult for consumers. ConEd must do a better job of effectively communicating with those they serve and have a better system for estimating when power will be restored.

ConEd customers are subjected to regular rate hikes and delivery charges, which they have no influence over. ConEd is quick to go to the NYS Public Service Commission to request rate hikes, but is sluggish at best when it comes to allocating the time, money, and effort required to effectively harden the system for its customers. It is time for ConEd to stop worrying about its profit margins and start worrying about its customers, who have literally been left in the dark.

The unsatisfactory response on the part of ConEd to restore power in a reasonable time frame is synonymous to a dereliction of their public responsibility, and its customers deserve compensation. I request that you provide customers who have been without power for more than 24 hours with a refund on their next utility bill due to a lack of basic service rendered. In addition, it is imperative that ConEd reevaluate and improve upon its response plan before the next major weather event, and I request that you report back to me when you have an updated plan.

Sincerely,

Eliot L. Engel

Member of Congress