NYSEG agrees to pay $1.5M to customers for Tropical Storm Isaias failures

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York State Public Service Commission (the Commission) adopted the terms of a $1.5 million settlement with New York State Electric & Gas Corporation for its alleged violations regarding their preparation and restoration efforts for Tropical Storm Isaias (TS Isaias).

On Aug. 4, 2020, TS Isaias struck the State and caused nearly a million power outages, and of those outages, 183,000 were located in the NYSEG service territory — the majority of outages experienced by NYSEG were in its Brewster Division in Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties. By 5 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2020, more than 90% of customers in the NYSEG’s Brewster Division were restored, with full restoration occurring just before 10 a.m. on Aug. 10, 2020.

As part of the settlement, NYSEG admitted to three violations and stated that their actions did not comply with rules and regulations. The company agreed to a penalty of $1.5 million paid from shareholder funds for the violations. The funds will be used to provide ratepayer benefits, decided by the Commission in the company’s next electric rate case, allowing for ratepayer notice and comment on the funds use.

Initiated by Gov. Cuomo, Department staff conducted an in-depth investigation into the preparation and response to TS Isaias by the State’s major electric and telecommunications utilities, including NYSEG. DPS, as part of its investigation, considered whether NYSEG properly prepared for, and responded appropriately to, TS Isaias in compliance with their annually filed Emergency Response Plans (ERPs).

On Aug. 19, 2020, Commission Chair John Rhodes issued a letter to NYSEG, which outlined several initial after-action findings related to utility preparedness, response and recovery, and required certain corrective action items be submitted.

While NYSEG must continue to work with the Department, municipal leaders and its customers to improve its storm preparation and response, as part of this settlement, the Commission acknowledges NYSEG’s improved storm performance in TS Isaias compared to the 2018 Riley and Quinn winter storms. The Commission received only 35 total customer complaints regarding the NYSEG TS Isaias response.

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