Blast Con Ed for ‘insulting’ reimbursement

Queens elected officials are steaming mad over the state Public Service Commission’s (PSC) decision to order Con Ed to give back $18 million to customers for the utility giant’s 2006 failures - highlighted by the blackout that kept more than 100,000 western Queens customers in the dark for as long as 10 days.
“It’s an insult, and it shows once again that the PSC does the industry’s bidding instead of representing the public,” said Queens Assemblymember Michael Gianaris, who represents the blackout area and has been an outspoken critic of Con Ed. “$18 million is like pennies for them, and it won’t impact their behavior for one second.”
City Councilmember Eric Gioia, whose constituents also suffered through the 2006 blackout, agreed that the reimbursement was unacceptable.
“When a devastating power outage like the one in Queens threatens lives, hurts businesses, and affects hundreds of thousands of people, Con Edison needs to be held to the highest levels of accountability,” he said. “They are still getting away with poor service at high prices.”
Meanwhile, the PSC also made a distinction that separates reimbursements for perishable food items from perishable medications, which were both capped under Con Ed’s previous electric tariff. The new language in the tariff would make reimbursements for perishable medications uncapped, and it would require Con Ed to update their maximum reimbursement levels every five years.
After the PSC’s ruling, Con Ed acknowledged letting down its customers during the 2006 blackout, but it continued to stress the improvements they have made and are continuing to make to its emergency response procedures as well as the reliability of its electric delivery network.
The PSC is also in the process of reviewing Con Ed’s proposal to increase rates by 17 percent or $1.2 billion next year. Recently, a PSC committee recommended that Con Ed receive about half of that increase, but discussions are in their relatively early stages and a decision is not expected until the end of the first quarter of 2008.

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