NY proposes law to hold utilities accountable for natural disasters

Updated: Oct 30,2020 03:39 GMT

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IANS

New York, Oct 30 (IANS) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed a new law to strengthen the US state's enforcement tools to hold utilities accountable in response to widespread failures resulting from more frequent and extreme weather events.

"God did not give the utility company the franchise -- the people of the state gave the utility company the right to operate. If the people of this state allow the utility company to operate, the people of the state can revoke their right to operate," Xinhua news agency quoted Cuomo as saying in an official release on Thursday.

If passed by the state's 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 (PSC).

It would also expedite and clarify the process of utility franchise revocation for recurring failures.

"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 Governor added.

The legislation was proposed on the 8th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, officially referred as hurricane Sandy.

In the US, Sandy affected 24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and west across the Appalachian Mountains to Michigan and Wisconsin, with particularly severe damage in New Jersey and New York.

The hurricane's storm surge hit New York City on October 29, 2012, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines and power outage.

Damage in the US amounted to $65 billion.

"We know that extreme weather is our new normal. Yet utilities repeatedly fail to respond to storms. I proposed a bill to hold them accountable," Cuomo tweeted on Thursday.

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