Poloncarz questions NYSEG response times

Poloncarz Questions NYSEG's Response Times

ALDEN, N.Y. -- It has been a long five days for homeowners with no power.

Some of the fallout is simply the result of mother nature, but Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says at least one utility company may be to blame, as well.

Saturday, Poloncarz called for an investigation in NYSEG because its power restoration times have been slower than those of National Grid.

"I think that that's unacceptable for a storm that was expected. It's not like this wasn't anticipated,” said Poloncarz.

NYSEG spokeswoman Rachel Buchanan tells 2 On Your Side that they expect to have "99 Percent" of their customers back in service by 11 PM Sunday. She says there have been major efforts to replace broken utility poles and to re-attach power lines along with other utility services.  

On the border of Genesee and Erie Counties in Alden, NYSEG customer Cody Corke would like answers, too. He did not leave his house for four days because, in addition to the extended power outage, the wires blocked his driveway. He told 2 On Your Side Sunday he was still without power and NYSEG told him 6 p.m. was the scheduled time for power to be restored. 

“It's 2017. Why should it take so long to get poles fixed? That, and I've also called about these trees, getting them cut down. It's been three years; they're still not cut down,” Corke said while showing Channel 2 the downed power lines on his property Saturday. 

Corke said he’s had problems with NYSEG before. He said they claimed responsibility for weak trees near the downed power lines year ago but never did anything about them.

Those exact trees came down with the wires in Wednesday’s windstorm, causing a big electrical mess.

By Saturday afternoon, new poles were installed, and by evening, the lines were finally on their way back up.

Poloncarz said NYSEG has not restored power in a timely manner nor communicated well with customers, and he's not pleased about it.

"National Grid had almost every one of its customers back in place, even though National Grid had more customers out across the entire Western New York region than NYSEG had originally,” he said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has already called for an investigation into Rochester Gas & Electric for its similarly slower response to restore electricity in areas east of Buffalo. Basically, Poloncarz wants the same thing done for NYSEG, a sister company to RG&E.

"When I see NYSEG fumble the ball, and Rochester Gas and Electric fumble the ball, and they're companion utility companies with the same upper management, something went wrong, and I want to Public Service Commission to investigate it,” Poloncarz said.

NYSEG released a statement in response, In part it reads "Thousands of men and women from our company and throughout the Northeast are working around the clock and we will continue to work around the clock until we have everyone restored. We welcome any additional assistance Governor Cuomo is able to secure for this effort. The company will respond to the Public Service Commission's concerns when we receive a formal notice of any inquiries." 

Luckily, Corke's generator allows him to have lights and heat, but it doesn't power his whole house. To complicate matters, he and his wife have an eight-month-old baby.

"Just trying to bathe him at night, that's one of the worst things. Luckily we can still boil water, we can get the water warm enough to get him in the sink to bathe him. We still haven't showered yet. It gets kind of brutal,” Corke said. 

NYSEG's Buchanan says to the best of their knowledge every customer call for service is being addressed. She says anyone who is still having power problems with potential emergency concerns should also contact 9-1-1 and they will be relayed to town or village emergency management officials and the utility firm. 

Both National Grid and NYSEG said mostly everyone should have their power back on between 10 and 11 p.m. Saturday night. 

About 1,680 NYSEG customers remained without power in Western New York Sunday afternoon, according to the utility's Outage Map. National Grid's Outage Map stated as of about 12:20 p.m. Sunday, only around 100 customers were without power Western New York. The most, 39, were in Cattaraugus County. 

 

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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