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NY PSC Report on Tropical Storm Response

NY PSC Report on Tropical Storm Response

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Published by Daily Freeman
June 28, 2012
June 28, 2012

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Published by: Daily Freeman on Jun 28, 2012
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03/01/2014

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The Department is responsible for ensuring investor-owned utilities in
New York provide electric, natural gas, and telecommunications services in a safe and
reliable manner. The Department’s specific responsibility for emergency response
oversight occurs in three phases: storm preparation, active monitoring of utility impacts
and system restoration, and post-storm analysis. To ensure that the electric utility
companies are fully prepared, Part 105 of Title 16 in the New York Codes, Rules, and
Regulations (NYCRR) requires each electric utility to have comprehensive Emergency
Plans, detailing and documenting the company’s response plans for emergencies. The
Emergency Plans define roles, responsibilities, and required training to reduce confusion
and promote a common understanding of the restoration process.7

Each electric utility
is expected to conduct restoration efforts in compliance with its Emergency Plan, and to
update its plan after a major event to capture all lessons learned. For natural gas
companies, Emergency Plans are required by Part 255 of 16NYCRR. The plans are
reviewed annually by Department Staff.

Facilities-based telecommunications companies are required to provide
their Emergency Plans when they apply for a Certificate of Public Convenience and
Necessity. Thereafter, they attest annually that they have a plan in place. Federal
regulations require cable and wireless telephone providers to have Emergency Plans;
there are no state regulations for these providers. As part of our investigation, Staff
reviewed Verizon’s Continuity of Operations Plan; verified that the major wireless and
cable companies have similar type emergency plans; and reviewed summary Emergency
Plan information provided by some cable and wireless companies.

7

Part 105 also requires annual drills to ensure that all employees are aware of their role and function
during an emergency.

CASE 11-M-0481

- 12 -

The Department’s role during a storm emergency is to oversee the
utilities’ efforts, and ensure that they are properly fulfilling their obligations. We
communicate with the utilities prior to predicted events and throughout the restoration
process and provide reports based on information learned. Staff participates in weather
briefings, monitors the utilities’ outreach efforts, and assists customers directly through
the Department’s call center. Staff also visits affected areas and communicates with
local officials and county emergency response managers as needed. Our main objective
is to promote a good, high-quality information flow between interested parties and the
utilities during a storm. Following a significant storm, Staff will perform a detailed
review to determine whether the utilities were properly prepared for, and responded
appropriately to, the effects of the storm. These actions are discussed in further detail
below.

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