Additionally, the Committees on Consumer Affairs, Technology and Lower Manhattan Redevelopment examined a bill on the feasibility of placing power lines underground.
City Hall, NY – Today, the Council Committees on Consumer Affairs, Technology and Lower Manhattan held an oversight hearing to examine risk mitigation measures taken by public utility companies. The Council also heard a bill that would require the Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability to conduct a study over the next six months on the feasibility of placing power lines underground.
“The prolonged power outages faced by New Yorkers in the days and weeks following Sandy highlighted weaknesses in the City’s utility infrastructure,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Today’s hearing is an opportunity to examine measures utility companies can take to flood-proof vulnerable areas to better withstand future storms.”
“These companies provide services that New Yorkers rely on, and getting them back in working order is the first step in a return to normalcy after a disaster,” said Council Consumer Affairs Committee Chair Daniel R. Garodnick. “We need to use the lessons learned from Sandy to see what we can do to prepare for the next major storm event.”
As power outages in the days and weeks following Sandy’s landfall showed, overhead power lines are particularly susceptible to damage during extreme storms.
Legislation first proposed by Speaker Christine C. Quinn in a November 2012 address to the Association for a Better New York and sponsored by Council Member Leroy Comrie would require the Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability to study the feasibility of undergrounding power lines to protect vulnerable infrastructure, and would review recent power outages in New York City and include a list of areas that would most benefit by relocating power lines underground.
“Super Storm Sandy taught us some valuable lessons and showed us our vulnerabilities in terms of infrastructure,” said Council Member Leroy Comrie. “Residents throughout the city faced power outages and went without heat and hot water for weeks, causing a serious burden on families, the elderly, and the infirmed. As we prepare for future disasters, we need to have a real discussion on how best to improve our outdated energy infrastructure. To do so, we need to assess what’s necessary and what’s realistically feasible, economically and logistically. My legislation explores the viability of moving overhead power lines underground. It is necessary to take a long hard look at the economic impact this would have on the city, to determine the practicality of such an enormous undertaking. We must be more aptly equipped to deal with extreme situations as we work to improve our city.”
Today’s hearing was the latest in a series of oversight hearings the Council will hold in the coming weeks to examine the City’s response to Hurricane Sandy.