John McAvoy, chairman, president and CEO of Con Edison, told reporters that he intends to stay in his job and not resign as had been called for earlier in the day by Westchester County Executive George Latimer and dozens of other municipal leaders from around the county.
In an event staged at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, the officials from Westchester demanded an executive housecleaning at Con Edison in the wake of its sluggish recovery from the March 2 and March 4 storms which left tens of thousands of its customers in the dark. The elected officials also faulted management of New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) for delays in restoring electric service to its customers.
McAvoy told a news conference on March 9 at Con Edison’s Corporate Emergency Response Center in Manhattan that the storm damage was so severe “we’re not just repairing our system, in many cases we’re actually rebuilding it.” McAvoy said that as of March 9, the utility had 2,000 people working in the field; 600 ConEd workers and 1,400 from other utility companies with another 400 workers due to arrive in the area shortly.
McAvoy said that Con Edison decided to recall workers it deployed to help in the Puerto Rico hurricane recovery when the second storm hit. He said there were 50 percent more outages than Westchester had experienced during Hurricane Irene in 2011.
McAvoy told the news conference that the widespread damage was attributable to three major factors: extremely high winds with gusts to 70 mph; a wet and heavy snow that stuck to trees and wires; and soil that had been saturated from previous rain and snow which allowed many more trees to be toppled.
McAvoy admitted that the utility’s robocall and internet information systems provided incorrect information to customers during and after the storms and said they were addressing the issues which had been exposed. Latimer and other officials had expressed particular outrage that customers were regularly being told their electric service was back on when it wasn’t and had been promised restoration time lines which were not met.
Con Edison was able to restore power to almost all customers by Monday morning, March 12, 10 days after the first nor’easter hit the region. The utility reported 127 outages as of 10 a.m. Monday morning, down from 1,900 customer outages the day before.