New York (STL.News) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today proposed new legislation to strengthen the State’s enforcement tools to hold utilities accountable in response to widespread failures to prepare for and respond to the reality of more frequent and extreme weather events such as Tropical Storm Isaias. If passed by the Legislature, the new law would dramatically increase penalties to shareholders for failing to adhere to emergency response plans and other violations of the Public Service Law, regulations or orders of the Public Service Commission. The new law would also expedite and clarify the process of utility franchise revocation for recurring failures. In addition, the bill requires the PSC to cap the amount of money ratepayers contribute to utility executive salaries.
Finally, the bill would also require the PSC to study whether private water suppliers like American Water on Long Island should come under municipal control. The majority of the State Legislature’s Long Island delegation joined the announcement, pledging to sponsor the bill and help ensure its passage.
“God did not give the utility company the franchise – the people of the state gave the utility company the right to operate,” Governor Cuomo said. “If the people of this state allow the utility company to operate, the people of the state can revoke their right to operate. So you have a penalty or you have a revocation—but both are very hard to affect right now by the current law, and we need to change the law. New Yorkers will no longer be bullied by utility companies who have long believed they are too big to fail. The abuse of public trust by utility companies will not be tolerated in New York State. The penalty should be commensurate with the damage caused by the utility companies. By removing the caps on penalties and easing the path to franchise revocation, utility companies will be held accountable.”
The new legislation would also do the following:
NOTE: this is NOT the complete release.