Con Edison faces fines of $ 25 million for the Manhattan and Brooklyn outages in 2019

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced that Con Edison is now facing $ 25 million in fines and a possible license revocation by the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) after an investigation into the utility’s failed response to major blackouts in Manhattan and Brooklyn was conducted in July 2019. The utility has the option to appeal the penalties, but should the commission confirm any of these apparent violations and if Con Edison is found not to have provided a safe and adequate service, the commission will initiate proceedings to have it lifted or initiate change to Service Area Certificate from Con Edison. The potential fines of $ 25 million

“Like so many New Yorkers, I was outraged when this blackout broke out,” said Cuomo. “Utilities are well paid by consumers to keep the lights on and Con Edison has miserably failed to deliver on the essence of its agreement with customers. I immediately instructed the PSC to conduct a thorough investigation into the failure to determine who was to blame are doing everything possible to ensure that New Yorkers are compensated. “

Outages such as those in the Con Edison service area in July 2019 that were not related to storms challenged the company’s ability to provide reliable service in bad weather. In the summer of 2019, Con Edison experienced two significant failure events eight days apart. The first occurred on July 13, 2019 around 6:47 p.m. That four-hour and 50-minute outage resulted in approximately 73,000 customers losing power on the West Side of Manhattan from 5th Avenue to the Hudson River and from 31st Street to 71st Street. The second outage event began on July 21, 2019 in Brooklyn in the Flatbush system and resulted in an electrical outage of approximately 33,000 customers within two days.

The outages affected commercial activities, residential buildings, transportation systems and traffic control. The lights were off in many of New York City’s popular nighttime destinations and public places such as Madison Square Garden, Broadway theaters, Carnegie Hall, and restaurants. The subway system experienced widespread delays and limited service as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had to shut down various stations in Manhattan. Although the underlying causes and conditions of these customer outages were different, the outage events in Manhattan and Brooklyn caused the Department of Public Service to question the company’s performance during these events and its efforts to provide critical outage information to customers, first responders, and elected officials place .

The department began an investigation into the causes and performance of the company during the outage events in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The department’s detailed 13-month investigation resulted in a report containing 13 recommendations related to the Manhattan outage event and 27 recommendations as a result of the Brooklyn event.

PSC Chairman John B. Rhodes said, “The first and foremost job of a utility is to ensure the safety and reliability of its delivery system. Based on the results of our thorough investigation, Con Edison appears to have failed on this task.As a result, we are now considering ways to punish the company for its obvious mistakes while instructing it to make improvements to ensure that repetitions don’t happen again. “

As a result of this investigation, Con Edison is now instructed to respond to these allegations of conduct before, during and after the Manhattan and Brooklyn power outages and to pursue civil and / or administrative penalties for failure to comply with rules and procedures. on the subject of failure prevention and recovery. Under current law, the maximum fine for Con Edison is more than $ 25 million – one of the highest fines ever imposed by the PSC. The penalties, should they be imposed, would be paid by the utility’s shareholders rather than the installment payers borne by the customers.

Review of Con Edison’s performance during the Manhattan and Brooklyn outages in 2019 revealed many opportunities for improvement that should be resolved by implementing and following the recommendations. In order to ensure timely implementation of the recommendations, Con Edison was instructed to respond within 30 days regarding both the implementation of the recommendations and the reasons why the PSC should not take punitive action against the utility.

However, despite potential penalties, Con Edison was recently recognized by PA Consulting with the ReliabilityOne Award 2020 for outstanding reliability performance in the Metropolitan Service Area of ​​the northeast region. Lance Becca, General Manager of Con Edison for Brooklyn-Queens Electric Operations, also received a special ReliabilityOne Award from PA Consulting. The selection of preliminary recipients of the ReliabilityOne Awards is primarily based on system reliability statistics, which measure the frequency and duration of customer outages. Once selected, each company goes through an on-site certification process that provides independent review and validation of the policies, processes, and systems used to collect, analyze, and report a company’s reliability scores.

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