BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Lee Hoffman was frustrated. He had to keep his household running on a borrowed generator, because his electric utility, New York State Electric and Gas couldn’t get the lights back on for Hoffman and more than a dozen of his neighbors on Clinton Street in Elma.
After nearly 5 days, Lee had enough, ”They didn’t coordinate it enough. They weren’t prepared for it enough.”
Wednesday’s heavy winds snapped a pine tree across the street, tangling hot electrical wires that apparently tripped the circuit breaker in Hoffman’s electrical transformer out near the street, and multiple calls to NYSEG just got him more upset.
“I said your supervisor was here yesterday, and he told me it would take a couple of hours to turn it back on, and nobody ever showed up. Then she told me it has to be more than that, if nobody showed up.”
Then Sunday night, a NYSEG crew got Lee and his neighbors back on line. They untangled the wires across the street, a NYSEG worker used a long fiberglass pole to flick a switch on the transformer, and in a matter of minutes the electricity was flowing again—ending nearly 5 days of frustration.
Over the weekend, Governor Cuomo called on the State Public Service Commission to investigate NYSEG’s sister utility, Rochester Gas and Electric—they are subsidiaries of utility conglomerate called AVANGRID–over their slow response to the storm.
A spokesman for the PSC confirmed the state’s utility regulatory agency is also reviewing NYSEG, “Given the fact that NYSEG shares management with RG&E, NYSEG’s preparation and response to the wind storms will also be investigated and thoroughly examined.”
The spokesman went on to say the PSC and State Department of Public Service are investigating the power companies which are required by law, “to be prepared and have plans on how to handle emergencies and quickly restore power to residents following storm-related outages.”
Western New York’s other dominant electric utility, National Grid, is not a target of the investigation. A spokesman told News 4, National Grid initially had more customers in the dark, following the windstorm, but company crews had everyone back on line by Sunday morning.