Con Edison is facing $25 million in penalties and possible license revocation from the NYS Public Service Commission because of the massive power outages in Manhattan and Brooklyn last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced.
In July of 2019, Con Edison experienced two massive outages just days apart during the hot weather. The first occurred on Saturday, July 13, and lasted nearly five hours. It caused about 73,000 customers to lose power in Manhattan. On July 21, there was another outage that lasted two days. About 33,000 customers in Brooklyn lost their electric service. Both outages were not-storm related. In fact, we reported at the time that Con Edison voluntarily stripped power from Brooklynites to prevent a bigger outage.
After a year-long investigation, Cuomo announced yesterday that Con Edison would be facing penalties. The company can contest the penalties, but “should the Commission confirm any of these apparent violations and if Con Edison is shown to have failed in providing safe and adequate service, the Commission will commence a proceeding to revoke or modify Con Edison’s service territory certificate. The $25 million in potential penalties is in addition to $15 million in revenue reductions already applied to Con Edison by the Commission due to these same 2019 outages.”
“Like so many New Yorkers, I was outraged when this blackout occurred,” Cuomo said. “Utilities are well-paid by consumers to keep the lights on, and Con Edison failed miserably to perform the essence of their agreement with customers. I immediately directed the PSC to conduct a thorough investigation of the outage to determine who was to blame. I will do everything I can to make sure New Yorkers are compensated.”
Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, Canarsie and Flatlands, and parts of East Flatbush were the neighborhoods affected by the temporary outage in Brooklyn. The Public Service Commission soon began an investigation that lasted 13 months. Based on state law, the maximum financial penalty Con Edison could face is more than $25 million. Con Edison also has 30 days to respond.
“A utility’s first and most important job is to ensure the safety and reliability of its delivery system. Based upon the results of our thorough investigation,” Public Service Commission Chair John B. Rhodes said, “it appears that Con Edison has failed in that task, and as a result, we will now consider ways to penalize the company for its apparent failures, while also directing them to make improvements to ensure repeats do not happen again.”