BUFFALO, N.Y. — The New York State Public Service Commission has completed its investigation into how utility companies handled storm response last year including a major windstorm here in WNY.
And it does not look good for one local utility company.
On April 4, 2018, a windstorm howling through Western New York, damaged cars and brought down power lines, leaving tens of thousands of people in the dark.
Lake Erie drenched Route 5 in Hamburg.
The state's Public Service Commission -- which oversees utilities across the state -- has come down hard on NYSEG, for how it responded to the storm, saying NYSEG was allegedly one of the worst performing companies during the storm, saying "communications with customers and public officials were ineffective."
"One of the largest areas of concern we heard was the accuracy of estimated restoration times or ETR's, NYSEG had major shortcomings in how it determined ETR's which resulted in the company needing to revise its ETR's," said Christian Bonvin, the chief of electric distribution systems for the PSC.
The PSC says NYSEG reduced the number of line workers, which increased restoration times.
"Although contractors are being used to help offset the decline we find it appropriate for these companies to provide plans to increase their internal resources to ensure proper levels are on hand," Bonvin said.
NYSEG isn't alone, the Department of Public Services says multiple power companies, including National Grid, did not follow emergency response plans during storms last year.
In March 2017, there was another windstorm in WNY -- wind gusts were up to 75 mph, causing tractor trailers to overturn and a CSX train to derail in Batavia.
Again, the PSC critical of NYSEG's handling of that storm has settled the case resulting in a $1.1 million dollar payout.
"In general, funds will be used for more effective event response prioritization, more effective communications between the companies and their customers," said administrative law Judge Sean Mulvaney.
NYSEG says in response to the March 2017 storm, that the company put up heavier wood poles that can withstand harsh weather, and bought a mobile command center, and implemented two-way texting with customers.
NYSEG did not respond to issues in last year's storm.
We did not hear back from National Grid.