Many residents got their power back yesterday. But - there are still a number of Greenburgh residents who don't have power. And, it's very cold and frustrating. I just received an e mail from the Commissioner of Public Works mentioning that Con Ed advised him that everyone should have their power back on by tomorrow evening. That is all the info we received. Power is still OUT at Veteran Park, where we run programs for seniors.
I will be working with other officials at the town, county and state levels and with Con Ed trying to come up with an action plan so that this disaster never happens again. We've had a number of outages over the years. It's obvious that the follow up action steps that were taken were not adequate and that more has to be done.
What would you recommend? I will compile a list of suggestions and will forward to lawmakers and utility executives. I also would like to hear your thoughts on how the town did -and what we could do better during the next storm. The Town Board and I will review all of these recommendations.
These are initial thoughts:
1) ORGANIZE WITH NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATIONS A WALK WITH CON ED AND RESIDENTS TO MORE AGGRESSIVELY PURSUE TREE TRIMMING PROGRAM--NEIGHBORS SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED TO HELP IDENTIFY TREES THAT ARE DEAD OR ON IT'S WAY TO BE DEAD...
There were lots of large trees that came down and blocked roads on main and side streets. The town has been working with Con Ed during the past 10 years on an aggressive tree trimming program and cutting program to remove potential threats. Significant dollars are appropriated annually for this initiative. We should be more aggressive. One thought: Organize, with civic associations, neighborhood walking tours with Con Ed===the community, officials and Con Ed would see what’s really dead or on it’s way. Let's be proactive. Should point out that in the past whenever Con Ed tries cutting or trimming trees near wires--residents who live near the trees object. We can't have it both ways.
2) LOANER GENERATORS When there are extended power outages, Con Ed could offer to install loaner generators to some elderly, disabled residents who don't have generators in their homes.
3)GRADUALLY PLACE WIRES UNDERGROUND--CON ED DISAGREED WITH THIS RECOMMENDATION IN A CHANNEL 11 STORY THAT AIRED ON FRIDAY NIGHT.
Place wires underground (Con Ed said it would cost too much in this channel 11 news story –which aired Friday night from the Edgemont section of town). However- I believe that placing wires underground gradually could work. I suggest a federal, state, county, local initiative –with homeowners who want underground wires contributing to the costs. The town currently requires underground wiring in new subdivisions. To reduce the costs - if a local government is digging to replace pipes wires could be placed underground at the same time. If there are more wires underground, there will be fewer outages and if there are fewer outages the outages will be repaired quicker.
4) USE GPS SO CUSTOMERS KNOW EXACTLY WHERE CON ED CREWS ARE AT GIVEN TIMES
Con Ed should let people know what is happening. Crews should have GPS and Con Ed websites should show where all the crews are during restoration. Con Ed should also --on their website -highlight where they anticipate that they will be going next--and anticipated schedules for restorations. They should explain why an area is first and why other areas are last.
5) REIMBURSE CUSTOMERS WHO EXPERIENCE OUTAGES FOR MORE THAN 2 DAYS WITH HOTEL, EATING EXPENSES
Some people are luckier than others. If there are extended outages Con Ed should reimburse residents who have been suffering for hotels, eating expenses. Some residents have been spending hundreds of dollars a day on hotels, food expenses. Today is day 10 of the power outages and some residents of Greenburgh are still out of power. And won't have power till Monday night.
6) MORE SOLAR Promote more solar power.
7) HOW MANY CREWS DID CON ED HAVE 20 YEARS AGO, 10 YEARS AGO AND NOW--HAVE THEY CUT TOO MANY?
Did Con Ed have enough crews, how were they dispersed. How much time before out of state crews are called? What is the cost of calling in out of state crews? If Con Ed calls in out of state crews and the weather turns out not to be bad - how much will Con Ed lose in revenue? Con Ed has been cutting back like everyone else. Years ago they hired for emergencies--but residents were angry because some of the staff was really not needed during non emergencies. What is the right balance?
DON'T MISLEAD CUSTOMERS BY TELLING THEM POWER IS ON WHEN POWER IS STILL OFF-- SOME RESIDENTS LOST HOTEL ROOMS WHEN THEY CAME BACK HOME---COULDN'T GET THE ROOM BACK
8) Con Ed phoned residents during the storm advising that power was on when it was off. Some people had gone to hotels, left the hotel after they got the robo call, went home. Power was not back on. And they lost the hotel room to another powerless resident. How does Con Ed keep track of the progress and how do they report that progress within their organization and externally to the public. Included in this is how they formulate estimates of how long someone should be without power and how reliable is the estimate.
9) Should we deregulate utilities--provide competition for distributing power?
10) FOR TOWN-- WHAT ACTION STEPS COULD WE TAKE TO IMPROVE OUR RESPONSE TO EMERGENCIES?
Communications, clearing trees, debris, warming centers, website information? Temporary shelters? Website info. What did you like? How can we improve?
I look forward to hearing your additional suggestions and thoughts on the above. Thanks again for your continued input.