Governor Cuomo wants to prohibit utilities from disconnecting services during states of emergency

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FILE – In this Nov. 9, 2018, file photo, Pacific Gas & Electric crews work to restore power lines in Paradise, Calif. Two years to the day after some of the deadliest wildfires tore through Northern California wine country, two of the state’s largest utilities were poised Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, to shut off power to more than 700,000 customers in 37 counties, in what would be the largest preventive shut-off to date as utilities try to head off wildfires caused by faulty power lines. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to prohibit utilities from disconnecting their services during sate of emergency. The Governor will propose legislation that will apply to electric, gas, water, telecommunications, cable and internet services.

Utilities that fail to comply will be subject to penalties.

“In a year in which we dealt with an unprecedented pandemic, ferocious storms added insult to injury by knocking out power for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “Utility companies provide essential services, and we need to make sure they continue to provide them, rain or shine. That’s why we’re proposing legislation to make sure that New Yorkers, especially those living in regions under states of emergency, have access to these critical services to provide for themselves and their families.”

Governor Cuomo has taken a series of actions to protect New Yorkers’ access to utilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the Governor signed legislation extending a moratorium that prevents utility companies from disconnecting utilities to residential households that are struggling with their bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Utility companies must instead offer these individuals a deferred payment agreement on any past-due balance. 

On November 19, Governor Cuomo announced that Con Edison now faces $25 million in penalties and possible license revocation from the New York State Public Service Commission following an investigation into the utility’s failed response during large-scale power outages in Manhattan and Brooklyn in July 2019. On November 2, Governor Cuomo announced that more than $328 million in home heating aid is now available for low- and middle-income New Yorkers who need assistance keeping their homes warm during the coming winter season.

The Governor has previously enacted some of the strongest and most progressive consumer protection and assistance programs in the country. Governor Cuomo established New York’s energy affordability policy in 2016. The policy extended energy bill support to more than 152,000 additional New York families, ensuring that more than 920,000 New York families spend no more than 6 percent of their income on energy bills. Through this program, New York commits more than $238 million annually helping to keep the lights and heat on for our most vulnerable New Yorkers, while actively striving to expand coverage to additional families.

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