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Legislative Memo

Darren Suarez
Director of Governement Affairs
T 518.465.7511
www.bcnys.org

BILL:

S.5271 (Avella)

Support

SUBJECT:

Requires the preparation of disaster preparedness and recovery from disasters.

 

DATE:

June 1, 2015

 

The Business Council of the State of New York opposes this legislation which would mandate the development of costly and largely duplicative emergency management plans by utilities, hospitals and residential health care facilities. 

Significant steps and efforts have already been undertaken by utilities, hospitals and residential health care facilities to implement weighty emergency response reforms. 

For example, New York’s electric utilities are already required to file emergency plans with the State.  In 2014, the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC)  approved the electric utilities’ amended emergency plans after a significant review process.  The PSC currently has the authority to ensure that the utilities will properly execute these emergency plans and will continually update and strengthen them.  Electric utilities are required to file emergency plans annually.

These plans detail how utilities can assist one another through the merger of the New York Mutual Assistance Group, New England Mutual Assistance Group, and Mid-Atlantic Mutual Assistance Group into the North Atlantic Mutual Assistance Group.  The merged mutual assistance group represents 21 Companies, covering 13 states, 4 provinces, and 1 district, and provides service to 35,406,050 electric customers, and 9,212,000 gas customers

Mutual assistance groups facilitate the process of identifying available restoration workers and help utilities coordinate the logistics and personnel involved in restoration efforts. For example, they can help utilities locate specialized skill sets, equipment, or materials, and can assist in identifying other types of resources that may be needed, including line workers, tree trimmers, and damage assessors.

In addition, the plans expanded the role for the National Guard in disaster response.  The Guard when requested by the utilities would control traffic, guard down power lines, distribute emergency supplies, and provide fuel and setup lighting to help repair crews.

Additionally, New York’s wireless carriers are already working successfully with the PSC on disaster preparedness and response. New York wireless carriers are constantly updating their preparedness and response plans. The wireless industry has been at the vanguard in disaster planning and response efforts.

In conclusion, PSC has engaged in several initiatives to comply with recent changes to the Public Service Law, now is not the time to alter that process, as there has been significant progress made in the development of disaster preparedness and recovery plans.

For these reasons we urge the legislature to disapprove of this bill.