Yorktown Heights, N.Y. – (12/08/11) Senator Greg Ball (R, C — Patterson) brought together elected officials, first responders, and the three area utility companies on Thursday to discuss how to decrease response times and deal with power outages more smoothly to keep the lights on for constituents throughout the Hudson Valley.
Representatives from NYSEG, ConED, Central Hudson, Yorktown Police and Fire Department, Northern Westchester Hospital, and a host of elected officials from across the region were at the conference.
With Hurricane Irene and Halloween Nor’easter snowstorm causing major power outages in the area, the meeting was hosted to discuss how to better prepare for and decrease the power outages that crippled the area.
Opening the round table Senator Ball said, “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.”
Assemblyman Steve Katz (R,I Yorktown) said, “This has been a very constructive round table. This is a great place for us to start, for the legislative officials, responders and utilities to get together. I think there were some excellent suggestions that were put forth here and the next step is to follow up on what we learned”.
Larry Eidelman, public safety officer from the Yorktown Police said, “I praise the Senator for bringing this issue to the front. We appreciate that he included the first responders, ‘the boots on the ground’ into the discussion. If there are even one or two changes in the policy that come out of this it was a great success.
Some of the ideas broached were to have personnel mobilized and in place before storms hit and to have a Direct Municipal liaison in order to get work orders logged into the system and taken care of as soon as possible. It was also suggested that first responders have a direct line of communication with utilities and be able to speak to the same individual as when initial calls are made for consistency and follow-ups.
NYSEG representative Dave Foss said, “It’s all about lessons learned and I am a firm believer of that, having been in this business thirty years. I think the meetings that we are doing with the towns have gone a long way, it’s all about relationships. I applaud him [Senator Ball] for pulling this meeting together and allowing us the opportunity to tell you what we are doing. Hopefully we can build off this and continue to get better.”
ConEd representative Steven Parisi said, “We got a chance to hear different opinions and feedback from all the stakeholders who are affected by storms and this was a good exchange of information. I think periodic conversation to get feedback from local municipalities specifically fire, police and DPW is very important and I am glad we got to talk directly to them because they do as much as we do during storms”.
When the idea of burying the power lines was brought up, ConEd officials informed the round table that the cost of such a project to the consumer would be three to five times as much as they are currently paying. The utilities were amenable to the idea of putting into practice a follow-up system on areas that have recurring problems. It was also suggested that a better estimated time of restoration system for repairs and more accurate outage logging be put in place.
Two other issues that came up were a shortage of dry ice, which would prevent food spoilage and the amount of meetings that should have been held between all three bodies represented at the meetings, elected officials, utilities and on the ground municipal personnel (police, fire department, ambulance corps).
For the first of its kind, Senator Ball was happy with the results of the meeting saying, “I am very pleased that each utility company was represented here today and I think this round table was very beneficial.”
For more information or to speak with Senator Ball, contact Joe Bachmeier (845) 200-9716
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