Updated 01/29/2013 10:53 PM
Moreland Commission meets in New Paltz
Three months after Superstorm Sandy devastated the region, the Moreland Commission arrived in New Paltz to hold its seventh public hearing. YNN's John Wagner was at the SUNY New Paltz student union with the details.
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NEW PALTZ, N.Y. -- County and local officials and a few average Joes came out tonight to explain to explain how Central Hudson, Orange and Rockland and other local utilities responded to Superstorm Sandy
"A real regulator so we have utilities that are more responsive to consumers concerns and more responsive to storm preparation and storm response,” said Moreland Commission co-chair Benjamin Lawsky.
"Were they trimming their trees and hardening their grid and then, were they doing what they needed to do in response,” said John Maserjian, Central Hudson Spokesperson.
Governor Andrew Cuomo established the Moreland Commission as a way to investigate how New York Utility companies work before and after major storms. When Sandy left more than two million New Yorkers out of power, many waited three weeks to get their lights turned back on. According to the commission, that's unacceptable and change is coming, some in the form of more oversight.
With more locally devastating storms like Irene and Lee farther from manys memory, a number of people praised utilities for their response to Sandy. But to protect against large outages and assist those who do lose their lights, others demanded better tree trimming, more emergency power sources and a leg up to modernity.
"We change from a 19th century delivery system to a 21st century delivery system, bury the power lines, get them off the telephone poles, out of harm’s way," said Town of Crawford resident Phillip Jamison.
"If we're going out and repairing the same wires in the same spot over and over and over again,” said Town of Wallkill Supervisor Daniel Depew. “We need to start identifying areas where we can put them underground.”
The Moreland Commission released an interim report that called for increasing state oversight of utilities, unifying state energy programs and policy and privatizing the Long Island Power Authority, which officials found to be completely dysfunctional. Cuomo added many of the tenets to his State of the State Address.
Locally, Central Hudson says they welcome the changes which they say will result statewide in better storm readiness.
Maserjian said, “We clear lines more thoroughly than we did in the past and that's made a big, big difference in these last few storms in the terms of numbers of outages and the ability to repair storms more quickly.”
The Moreland Commission is expected to submit its final report later this spring, with bigger penalties for utility violations, required reviews of storm planning and other reforms likely to follow.