(PHOTO: Rye Mayor Josh Cohn can read to kids and also throw the book at Con Ed.)
MyRye.com caught up with Rye Mayor Josh Cohn for a postmortem on Con Ed’s performance during Tropical Storm Isaias. What’s your take on Con Ed’s performance? Leave a comment below.
MyRye.com: Describe Con Ed’s performance in the wake of Tropical Storm Isaias in one word.
What kind of transparency do we need from Con Ed at a hyper-local (City of Rye) level?
Cohn: We need to understand the resources they have available to help us, the priorities that are driving them and the nature and difficulty of the technical/engineering issues the outage presents, and time required to remedy, day by day, restoration by restoration.
Rye guy and County Executive George Latimer called for a cost study for placing electric lines underground (vs. on poles). Do you support this study? Is it simply too expensive on its face? And would Rye in particular have issues given the level of the water table and related flooding in parts of town?
Cohn: I support this study. I am sure the expense of undergrounding is daunting, but the expense of outages like those we have seen just in the past two and a half years is horrendous. Any study should consider the possibility of “incremental undergrounding,” which would have undergrounding take place whenever a street is opened for another purpose (such as many Rye streets have been recently for Con Ed gas pipe renovations), with additional undergrounding as budget and circumstance allow. Yes, the existence of rock and high water table is an issue, but not an issue everywhere, even in Rye.
Rye guy and County Executive George Latimer also called for a “utility service corp” that he equates to a National Guard type group to restore electrical service in the wake of storm damage. Does this merit attention? Should it be a public or privately funded effort?
Cohn: George is thinking creatively, and that is good. I would have initial questions about our ability to raise a trained and ready force. My first position is that it is the utility’s job (and financial burden) to prepare the system for storms and repair the system when overcome by storm.
Con Ed is regulated by the NY State Public Service Commission. What can the PSC do to make Con Ed more accountable?
Cohn: I believe the PSC, at the direction of the State Legislature, can do any number of things to make Con Ed more accountable, ranging from creating economic penalties for storm response failures to imposing requirements to maintain restoration personnel and equipment resources, to demanding improved crisis analytical capacity and customer communication capability, etc.
From a scale of one (I’m moving my house off the grid because I don’t trust Con Ed) to ten (I have 100% confidence in Con Ed and have invited their management team over for holiday dinner with the family), rate your confidence in how Con Ed will handle the next nasty storm.