In a historic settlement, a Hudson Valley company credits its customers with $ 3.4 million for poor storm planning.
On Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a nearly $ 72 million deal with Altice after the company failed to adequately prepare and restore broadband and cable television service after tropical storm Isaias hit more than 400,000 Altice customers in August 2020 Part had left without service than 14 days.
On August 4, 2020, tropical storm Isaias hit New York, bringing strong winds and heavy rain, particularly affecting the Mid-Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island regions. The storm caused significant damage to power distribution and telecommunications infrastructure, which in turn resulted in prolonged outages for a significant number of New York utility customers, including more than 400,000 Altice customers.
“It is absolutely unacceptable to leave hundreds of thousands of customers without access to the Internet, especially at a time when so many people depend on broadband for work and school,” said Governor Cuomo. “This deal makes it clear that telecommunications companies in New York have an obligation to prepare for severe weather and develop robust storm response programs. If they fail to do this properly, we will hold them accountable and force them to change the path.” they do business. “
Following the power and communications outages caused by the tropical storm, Governor Cuomo ordered the Department of Public Services to immediately investigate the preparation and response of utilities to the storms.
The report highlighted the need to amend existing laws or regulations to require the filing and annual updates of more robust contingency plans, similar to those used by electricity companies, to greatly improve preparedness and response to future storms and other emergencies for telephone and cable television companies, so Cuomo’s office.
The investigation found that Altice appeared to have failed to adhere to many important aspects of its response plan and associated severe weather preparedness plan, which contributed to Altice’s inability to restore service in a timely manner and effectively communicate to customers with outages. Obvious violations, according to Cuomo’s office, include failure to establish adequate preparedness plans and recovery from the storm, poor customer service and communication, and poor communication and coordination with government officials and electricity suppliers.
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Under the settlement agreement, Altice will spend $ 68.54 million to improve the storm stability of its system and perform other upgrades without charging customers for the upgrades and New York customers affected by Tropical Storm Isaias , Provide $ 3.4 million in loans.
In addition to the US $ 3.4 million customer loans and US $ 68.54 million promotional items, Altice has agreed to make a number of programmatic, administrative, and policy “enhancements” to its storm-related operations to aid the company’s performance planning and improving recovery from future severe weather events. For example, Altice has agreed to work towards amending its contracts with certain third-party vendors to provide greater security regarding the number of third-party resources available during storm recovery.
The $ 72 million settlement is the largest in New York state ever carried out by a company under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission for failing to follow emergency response procedures.
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