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State agency gathering feedback on March windstorm, power outages

WBFO's Eileen Buckley

The Public Service Commission is holding two days of public hearings to listen to those affected by the windstorms of five weeks ago. Especially those served by NYSEG and Rochester Gas and Electric had problems getting their power back on.

Both days are legal meetings, with an administrative law judge presiding and a court stenographer keeping track of what was said. While there were a fair number of speakers Wednesday afternoon, there were very few in the evening session: two speakers split.

Alayne Danzer told the hearing the storm aftermath was a mess.

"I felt they did a very good job for the amount of devastation in our neighborhood," she says. "Our power was out for 48 hours and, if you consider what our neighborhood looked like, I feel they did an incredible job."

The Town of Aurora resident says there were trees all over her street and on houses. Danzer says it was a complicated situation to clean up to get the lights back on.

"They had to first secure the area. They had to figure out what supplies they would need. They had to make it safe for the men and women who were going to come in and fix it and there was so much devastation," Danzer says. "It really looked like a war zone in my neighborhood."

Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond
Diane Iacobucci

However, Diane Iacobucci told Administrative Law Judge Dakin Lecakes the opposite. She says the worst part was getting information, with her power out for days.

"We had no electric. We had a person who was afflicted with cancer for 100 days in the hospital. So we were running the generator," she says. "We had the generator going. We had to shut it off like in the night, around 1 a.m.-5 a.m. to cool it off. We put it on again in the morning. We had a fireplace going to warm the house. So that was our major concern, that nobody came."

Lecakes says he will prepare a report to the full PSC.

"My report on the public statement hearings and the public comments will happen pretty quickly. Then it will go to the commission. The commissioners will have a chance to review that," Lecakes says. "That will happen within the next week, but then the staff investigators, the engineers that are doing the investigation will take longer because they will be interviewing company personnel from both NYSEG and RG&E."

That might eventually include a comparison of how these two companies did and how National Grid did in dealing with the same storm. Lecakes says he might also produce a report making recommendations about preventing this in another storm, although that potential report would be in the future.

The hearings shift Thursday to Rochester.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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