In the past two years, the state of New York has been battered by a series of storms, including Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee. Invoking the Moreland Act of 1907, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo established the Moreland Commission on Utility Storm Preparation and Response last month to investigate the effectiveness of New York power utilities in the face of extreme weather events.The Moreland Commission is tasked with exploring the actions taken by the utilities in preparation for and response to the resulting state emergencies.
At the request of the Commission, RAP Principal Rich Sedano appeared as a witness at its December 6th hearing. Mr. Sedano spoke about how a state government can consider organizing to have more coherent policy development and implementation on emergency preparedness and in meeting clean energy goals, while maintaining critical functions of regulation. He described how a commission might use different forums to vary the way it does business in order to avoid insularity in content and location. He explored options such as performance-based regulation for ensuring utilities’ accountability or granting the governor the authority to express priorities. Using changes in Connecticut and Massachusetts as examples, he described how a utility commission could be placed organizationally within a state agency to promote more awareness and coordinate state policy, while still maintaining its independence in specific cases. For more details of Mr. Sedano’s testimony, please see the hearing transcript.