YORKTOWN, N.Y.— A light dusting of snow on the ground set the scene for a round-table discussion between local officials and representatives from power utility companies throughout the county to discuss concerns with the companies responses to inclement weather power outages.
The discussion, held at Yorktown Town Hall Thursday morning, came after two storms, Tropical Storm Irene and an October snowstorm, left hundreds of thousands without power for days, and without answers, according to local officials.
“This is not a pep rally or hearing to attack the utility companies or first responders. This is about figuring out what went wrong and implementing change so we can all work together to prevent future outages,” said State Sen. Greg Ball (R/Patterson), who moderated the discussion.
Police, fire, highway and emergency services members of the town spoke about good practices that they had seen work in storms, and what their requests were. Such things included having a liaison for the town from the power companies actually be in the town, fixing communication when it came to alerting the town of what trees and power lines had been fixed or what streets were passable, as well as the issue of a timely response.
Both NYSEG and Con Ed noted that both storms were the largest their power companies had ever had to handle in terms of outages, but said they were interested in working with each municipality to alleviate future problems and concerns.
“Meteorology is not an exact science, and both storms it took actually until the storms hit for us to know how specific the storms damage was, but we did bring in people on day one as far as the manpower,” said James Salomon, the NYSEG representative. “I think one of the things we hear loud and clear and that is part of our plan is as soon as possible is to assign a crew to townships so that they can work with us, and we can work on priorities.”
Con Edison acknowledged that in years past having a liaison had greatly aided the town in prioritizing the roads that needed to be cleared first, and said they would hope to continue that in future storms.
“In terms of Con Edison, for the two storms, the hurricane was the largest storm in the company’s history, while the snowstorm was a close third,” said Anthony Torpey, a Con Edison representative.
Torpey said public safety is always the top priority after a storm, but within public safety are a myriad of other priorities the power companies have to delegate. “It’s very difficult when in the beginning of a storm you’re ramping up limited crews and with more crews on the wait, it’s difficult to see where you will send those crews to.”