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Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and United Westchester release report with recommendations for improved response to future storms -- including 11 recommendations for telecommunications companies.

United Westchester wants Con Edison and NYSEG to improve communication with municipalities, and they want Altice and Verizon to upgrade their infrastructure.  These are just two of the 42 recommendations that United Westchester makes for these electric utility and telecommunications companies in the group’s Storm Response Report, in light of Tropical Storm Isaias.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer, New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, and United Westchester, have released a Storm Response Report with detailed analyses and recommendations to address the failures of the electric utility and telecommunications companies in Westchester. 

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “This effort came together after the 2018 weather crisis, known as storms Riley and Quinn, which caused such devastation and power outages in Westchester County. The aftermath of those storms created a group of people all across Westchester County getting together to discuss what the problems were that were experienced and what possible solutions can be identified to make sure we have a better relationships with the power and telecommunications organizations in order to provide the proper service during these crises for the residents of our towns, cities, villages and County at large.”

United Westchester Co-Chair Assemblywoman Amy Paulin said: “This report details recommendations which need to be followed in order to effectively address the utility and telecom failings which occurred after Isaias and prior storms that have severely impacted our county in recent years.  Our service providers know what went wrong.   They now need to address the issues and recommendations set forth in the report so that power restoration efforts in Westchester County can be significantly improved.” 

Among the other recommendations for Con Edison and NYSEG:

  • The use of Smart Meters to track customers who are without power, creating a live interactive outage map for public viewing
  • A regularly updated and shared list of critical facilities
  • An updated map of Con Edison’s grid provided to each municipality
  • Better internal communications in Con Edison between management, field and workers.
  • The creation of the utility reserve corps
  • Better supply and distribution of dry ice
  • A 10-year storm hardening plan and implementation

Among the recommendations for Altice and Verizon:

  • Improved coordination with electric utility companies during post-storm restoration efforts
  • Fixing customer service tools and availability
  • Providing municipal officials with operational contacts
  • Giving customers credits when they lose access to telecommunications services
  • For Altice, upgrading infrastructure and powering network nodes during power outages

On Aug. 4, 2020 Tropical Storm Isaias hit New York with heavy rain, and winds gusting up to 70 miles per hour. The storm left thousands of Westchester residents without power for multiple days and disrupted telephone, cable, and internet services -- services that are particularly essential due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

United Westchester is a group of local, County, and State officials that have worked together since 2018 to implement significant and necessary improvements to storm response efforts in Westchester County.

United Westchester Storm Hardening Subcommittee Chair, White Plains Mayor Tom Roach said: "As a group we have produced a document that is not simply another call for change but a carefully thought out blueprint for real measurable improvement in the way utilities prepare for and respond to storm events. I would like to express my appreciation to Assemblywoman Paulin, County Executive Latimer and all of my colleagues for their efforts in moving this forward."

United Westchester NYSEG Subcommittee Chair, Pound Ridge Supervisor Kevin Hansan said:  “Every level of Government in Westchester County is calling on our electric utility and telecommunications companies to do nothing more than provide the minimum service paid for by our residents.”

United Westchester Emergency Services Subcommittee Chair, Scarsdale Trustee Jonathan Lewis said: "United Westchester shows the power of government collaboration. Our executive committee and subcommittees brought together a cross section of government leaders throughout the county, empowered them to find actionable recommendations, and set tight deadlines for the completion of this project. Thanks to County Executive Latimer and Assemblyperson Paulin for their leadership on this report."

The United Westchester report released today analyses, makes recommendations, and details what has been done to-date regarding the widespread outages, communication failures, and emergency response plans of our region’s electric utility and telecommunications providers in connection with Isaias. The report covers topics including: electric utility and telecommunications provider storm preparedness; the pre-storm steps taken to protect the electric distribution grid and critical telecommunications infrastructure; the reasons for the lengthy post-storm repair, restoration of service and reconnection of customers; the extent of coordination between electric utility and telecommunications providers and municipalities in restoring service; and the reasons for the loss of customer service communication during and after the storm.

Former New York State Assemblymember and Former Co-Chair of United Westchester David Buchwald said: "Tropical Storm Isaias was unfortunately only the latest in a string of utility underperformance following significant storms dating back at least to Superstorm Sandy, and yet in this report we document both new issues (as with telecommunications utilities) and the potential for improvement (as with NYSEG). There is no doubt in my mind that United Westchester can make a difference when a utility company is willing to listen to feedback and make fundamental changes to its approach."

Participating in today’s press event were:

  • George Latimer, Westchester County Executive (United Westchester Co-Chair)
  • Amy Paulin, Assemblywoman (United Westchester Co-Chair)
  • Jaine Elkind Eney, Deputy Supervisor, Town of Mamaroneck (United Westchester Con Edison Subcommittee Co-Chair)
  • Ivy Pool, Supervisor, Town of New Castle (United Westchester Con Edison Subcommittee Co-Chair)
  • Kevin Hansan, Supervisor, Town of Pound Ridge (United Westchester NYSEG Subcommittee Co-Chair)
  • Warren Lucas, Supervisor, Town of North Salem (United Westchester Telecommunications Committee Chair)
  • Tom Roach, Mayor, City of White Plains (United Westchester Storm Hardening Subcommittee Chair)
  • David Buchwald, former Assemblyman (United Westchester Weather Forecasting Committee Co-Chair)
  • Jonathan Lewis, Trustee, Village of Scarsdale (United Westchester Emergency Services Subcommittee Chair, United Westchester Weather Forecasting Subcommittee Co-Chair)
  • Josh Cohn, Mayor, City of Rye (United Westchester Executive Committee member)
  • Tom Abinanti, Assemblyman (United Westchester Executive Committee member)
  • Sandy Galef, Assemblywoman (United Westchester Executive Committee member)
  • Steve Otis, Assemblyman (United Westchester Executive Committee Member)
  • Margaret Cunzio, County Legislator (United Westchester Executive Committee Member)
  • MaryJane Shimsky, County Legislator (United Westchester Executive Committee member)

Read the full report.