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Cuomo says he's angry at pace of NY power recovery

Michael Gormley, Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that utility companies have done an unacceptable job of getting service back to customers and that he's ready to take away their rights to operate in the state.

"The progress is unacceptable," Cuomo said. "To say that I am angry ... would be the understatement of the decade."

Cuomo noted Monday afternoon from Manhattan that more than 450,000 New Yorkers remained without power after Superstorm Sandy hit last week. More than 2.2 million homes and businesses lost power at the peak of the outages, but he doesn't believe utilities have worked hard enough to restore service.

Utilities, however, have been steadily restoring power to thousands of homes and business each day as they also bring in thousands of crews from other power companies in other states to help out. They say that work such as repairing main lines were first priorities and so there may have appeared to have been a delay in restoring power to individual houses.

Consolidated Edison Co., the main utility supplying power to New York City, has restored electricity to 840,000 homes and businesses so far, said spokesman Michael Clendenin. About 140,000 of its customers are still without power.

"We appreciate the state's assistance in helping to restore customers as soon as possible," said Michael Clendenin of Consolidated Edison Co. "We are just as upset that anyone is still out, but this restoration has been a massive, unprecedented undertaking."

There was no immediate comment from New York State Electric & Gas Corp. There was also no immediate comment from the Long Island Power Authority. It has said it has restored power to 675,000 customers, with 370,000 still without power.

"I am a reasonable person and I want to give utilities the time to explain their side," Cuomo said. "But I believe the service was inadequate."

He said he will force utilities into public forums to defend their effort. But Cuomo said he will also bring up past performance and was critical of power restoration after last summer's Tropical Storm Irene that thrashed upstate communities.

Cuomo said Monday that state action could range from "sanctions to revocation of franchise."

He said he is worried about a nor'easter due to hit Wednesday, threatening more outages.

The comments followed strong criticism by himself and state Director of Operations Howard Glaser last week. Glaser said that after repeated complaints about NYSEG he toured northern Westchester County himself and found no crews working.


Associated Press writer Deepti Hajela in New York contributed to this report.