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Cuomo Calls New Castle Outages 'Unacceptable'

The governor, a New Castle resident, dismisses utilities' performance.

Cuomo Calls New Castle Outages 'Unacceptable'

New Castle residents can count Gov. Andrew Cuomo as among those unhappy with the pace of Con Edison's power restoration in town in response to Hurricane Sandy hitting

“Unacceptable," he said. "I'm as frustrated as anyone and I told the utility companies in no uncertain terms, on a number of occasions, they're going to be held accountable.”

The governor, who lives in New Castle, was asked to weigh in on the situation after he finished voting Tuesday morning at his polling place, the Presbyterian Church of Mount Kisco. 

As of Tuesday morning, the number of Con Edison customers in New Castle without power stood at more than 3,000, according to the company's outage map, more than a week after Sandy battered the region.

Cuomo, who expressed general frustration with power companies in the restoration, also suggested revisiting the franchise agreements of utilities that fail to perform.

“Consumers pay their bill and they expect performance – and they have a right to expect performance – and these utility companies, they, this is not a god-given right to be a utility company. It's not an internal monopoly. They are granted the franchise by the state and it's the state's responsibly to make sure they're performing and we will.”

Cuomo is certainly not alone in town among those who are mad at the power company.

“It is unacceptable," said Maxine Highbloom, a resident who has been without power, when asked about Cuomo's remark.

Highbloom, who lives with her husband Lloyd on Route 133, said that Con Edison supervisors have looked at the problem for her home, to no effect. Talking with reporters, she also described the damage to her home as "unbelievable" and was uncertain about its structural situation.

“They are absolutely the worst, uncaring," she said about Con Edison. Highbloom also that she is a Con Edison shareholder and plans to sell stock "because they should be taken over." 

The Highblooms are staying in their home, Lloyd Highbloom explained, amid unavailable hotel space.

Also among those still without power is New Castle Supervisor Susan Carpenter, who has been criticized by residents due to the pace of restoration but is herself frustrated with the power company.

“Con Ed was not ready for it," Carpenter said.

Talking to reporters after voting, Cuomo also weighed in, more broadly, on the election cycle, which includes Democratic President Barack Obama's bid for a second term against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

“These are big issues that the state and this nation are facing," Cuomo, a Democrat, told reporters. "Leadership is important. The path that we pick is important, so I think, you know, in decades, this is probably one of the most important elections that we've had in this state and this nation, and I urge people to participate.”

The governor added, “I have my preference, I have my opinions, I shared them with the people of this state and more than anything people should just vote.”

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