Cuomo Blasts Con Edison For Role in NYC Blackout

Date : 07/15/2019 @ 9:28PM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Consolidated Edison Inc (ED)
Quote : 91.25  -0.97 (-1.05%) @ 1:00AM

Cuomo Blasts Con Edison For Role in NYC Blackout

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By Jimmy Vielkind 

ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been using Saturday's blackout in Manhattan to attack the utility company responsible for it and indirectly criticize New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, again took to the airwaves Monday. He said he was disappointed that Consolidated Edison Inc. had not yet determined the cause of Saturday's blackout, which left more than 70,000 customers in the core of Manhattan without power.

"Con Ed says they don't know, which is the worst answer you could give," Mr. Cuomo said during a Monday interview on WNYC-FM. The governor said that the outage, which took five hours to fully fix, endangered New Yorkers. "This is Russian roulette, you know? People can die."

Mr. Cuomo has asked state investigators to probe the cause of the blackout. In a separate Monday radio interview on WAMC, he said that the state-regulated utility could face fines or sanctions. He said Con Edison could be replaced but didn't see that as happening.

It is "doable but not easily done," Mr. Cuomo said. However, "I don't think we're at that point."

No injuries were reported as a result of the outage. A team of Con Edison engineers was examining power equipment to determine the cause of the blackout, utility executives said Sunday.

"New York's grid is the most reliable in the country and we are focused on finding the root cause of Saturday's power outage," Con Edison spokesman Philip O'Brien said Monday.

This isn't the first time Mr. Cuomo has gone after Con Edison. He ordered an investigation after an equipment failure last December in the Astoria section of Queens. In March of 2018, the governor suggested the state's Public Service Commission could revoke the licenses of utility companies, including Con Edison, after storms prompted widespread outages in the lower Hudson Valley.

George Arzt, a political consultant and one-time press secretary for former Mayor Ed Koch, said politicians frequently blasted phone, cable and electric companies because they are generally not beloved by consumers.

"You can't lose hitting a utility," Mr. Arzt said in a Monday interview.

Mr. Cuomo rushed to the affected area on Saturday evening and has conducted many interviews since then. It was a marked contrast to Mr. de Blasio, who was in Iowa as he seeks the Democratic nomination for president. The New York Post on Monday called for the governor to remove the mayor from office.

Mr. Cuomo on Monday said he wasn't criticizing Mr. de Blasio for his absence and that he would not seek his removal per a process spelled out in state law. But Mr. Cuomo said he believed a chief executive should be present at emergency situations to project an aura of control to the public.

Mr. de Blasio, speaking Monday morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," said he was making decisions in Iowa as emergency responders were doing their job.

"Our agencies performed exactly the way they needed to," Mr. de Blasio said.

--Katie Honan contributed to this article.

Write to Jimmy Vielkind at Jimmy.Vielkind@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 15, 2019 16:13 ET (20:13 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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