Con Edison continues to come under fire for its response to the massive power outages caused by Tropical Storm Isaias, with one prominent elected official going so far as to propose a government takeover of the utility here in the city.

What You Need To Know

  • Earlier this week, Cuomo announced an investigation into Con Edison, other utilities in the state. Friday,

  • Mayor de Blasio called it “an unacceptable situation.”

  • Public Advocate wants to do away with Con Ed, replace it with a municipal utility, which would take control of the transmission grid

  • Williams’s plan would take years and faces enormous hurdles

  • As a first step, he’s wants state legislature to grant the city control over a new public authority

Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an investigation into Con Ed and other utilities in the state, citing “the reckless disregard by utility companies to adequately plan” for the storm.

Friday, it was Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"This is an unacceptable situation,” the mayor said, citing not only Con Ed's pace of work, but also a lack of communication with customers. “Con Ed continues to be unclear in their response, and this is something we've seen before, and I really wish Con Ed would get the memo that they have to be clear in their game plan for New Yorkers.”

Then there was Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who wants to do away with Con Ed altogether and replace it with a municipal utility, effectively allowing city to run the power grid itself.

"The time has now come for democratized energy,” Williams said at a news conference. “Public power."

In a report released Friday, Williams says the utility brought in net income of $1.4 billion in 2018, paying out $850 million in dividends while its CEO took home $9.8 million. Rates, meanwhile, have been going up in the range of 4 to 5 percent annually.

"Con Edison, to be clear, is a for-profit entity,” he said.

It's not the first time of late that Con Ed's very existence has been called into question. Last summer, Cuomo repeatedly threatened to revoke Con Ed's license.

But the utility survived and likely will for the forseeable future. The Public Advocate's plan would face enormous political and legal hurdles. It requires condemning Con Ed's assets, then allowing the city to acquire them.

As a first step, Williams is introducing a home rule request in the City Council. It would ask the state legislature to grant the city control over a new public authority.

"There's a lot of steps that have to happen,” Williams said. “And we don't want to underestimate the amount of time it's going to take. It could take up to a decade. We want to be clear about that. But we have to get started now."

In a statement Friday, Con Edison said: "Right now we’re focused on the safe restoration of our customers. We are happy to discuss how to best advance the city and state's clean energy goals. We will review the report."


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Main story image: Tokuyuki Komiyama via AP


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