One week ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo demanded the state’s utility companies step up their efforts in returning power to New Yorkers and threatened to revoke their business licenses if they failed to do so. At a press conference today, a reporter asked the governor how power companies reacted to the increasing pressure, specifically whether they were “pensive,” “mortified,” or “terrified.” Mr. Cuomo made it abundantly clear the utilities were indeed very concerned and described the uncertain terms he used to make them feel the urgency of the situation.
“All of the above,” he answered. “I think all of the above, because I’ve had the full range of conversations that you can have, so I think it’s all of the above; frightened, frustrated, embarrassed. Look, you can’t be any stronger or harsher than I have been on the utility companies. You can’t. You can’t use any language publicly, any other language that I’ve used, and I not have to worry about my daughters watching the broadcast, right? Privately, I have used language my daughters couldn’t hear, so they’ve gotten the message.”
Mr. Cuomo’s ire wasn’t done there, and he expressed particular frustration with the utilities’ lack of poles for power lines.
“Now, they have an inability to respond, and that is partially personnel, material, by the way,” he continued. “One of the frustrations for the utility companies, by the way, is that they ran of material. They ran of poles, believe it or not. They ran out of poles. Poles are something that a utility company would want to have, you would think, right? You look at what a utility does, it basically comes down to wires and poles and crews and trucks, these are things you would want to have? How can you run out of poles?”
Long Island Power Authority, which has yet to restore power to many thousands of consumers in Suffolk, Nassau and Queens counties, received additional scorn from the governor.
“So part of it is the system, but I also believe, with LIPA, part of it is just the performance and the management, which is just unacceptable,” he said. “And they failed. They failed the consumers. The management failed the consumers. It’s simple. And that’s my position.”
Mr. Cuomo was also had tough talk about what he expects from the federal government in financial assistance.
“We pay a lot in taxes to Washington,” he said. “This is a very important state, nationally, and I want the respect for our taxpayers.” He added later, ”I expect 100% reimbursement from FEMA.”