Governor Andrew M. Cuomo pushed legislation that would strengthen enforcement of utility companies and hold them accountable for paying customers for outages.

According to the Telegraph, the legislation hasn't been written yet, but has been discussed. This would increase penalties on utility companies for failing to adhere to emergency response plans and other violations of the Public Service Law or orders of the Public Service Commission.

Penalties related to reliability and continuity of electric service, including restoration following a major outage or event, start at $100,000 or .02 of 1 percent of annual intrastate gross operating revenue, whichever is greater, for each offense. The penalties rise to $500,000, or .04 of 1 percent, whichever is greater, for combination gas and electric utilities when it comes to restoration of service following major outages."

The bill would also extend enforcement to give the state authority to seek up to $500 per household for consumer damages like spoiled food or lost medication due to extended outages.

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Cuomo said passage of the bill would have a statewide impact affecting utilities across New York and may face an uphill battle with utility companies expected to fight against the legislation:

“The penalty should be commensurate with the damage done by the utility company,” Cuomo said during a conference call with reporters Wednesday. “This law was done for the utility companies years ago. You can be penalized, but there is a cap on the penalty you can receive. What has happened is the penalty has become the cost of doing business.”"

Those in favor of the bill say penalties should match the amount of damage caused by a long outage.

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