Southern Tier electric customers angry over getting ‘left in the dark’

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ARKWRIGHT, N.Y. (WIVB) – James Pryll opened the door to the freezer, showing the little bit of meat that is left from his hunting trips-including one that bagged a bear in Canada-after the power was knocked out by nearly two feet of snow over the weekend.

“This is all I got left, I had about 20 packs of bear meat, I’ve got two packs of bear met left, and a third of all the venison I had.”

James and his sister Trisha Pryll live in the Town of Arkwright, a rural area of Chautauqua County, where power lines are hard to get to, and folks have gotten used to their homes going dark when severe weather sets in.

The bigger problem, as Trisha put it, is getting little information no information, or misinformation from NYSEG, their electric utility.

“It is not a matter of the power being out because down here, we are used to it. But it is when you call to try to get an answer and you can’t talk to nobody–you don’t even get an update.”

Trisha said they did not even have running water for a few hours because their pipes froze, without heat, and compared to what they lost in the fridge, their parents lost a lot more their full size freezer that was full of meat.

While NYSEG made dry ice and warming centers available for customers in the Hudson Valley, which was hit a lot harder by last week’s storm, Trisha said customers in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties were out of luck.

A NYSEG spokesperson told us, when they are slammed with a high volume of calls, they routinely turn to automated voice messaging services to keep their customers up to date.

But Trisha said what they got over the weekend was ridiculous, “to be left in the dark, literally, with no answers–just inform your people–inform your customers so we are not constantly calling, trying to find out what is going on.”

Following a brutal windstorm in March last year, the New York State Public Service Commission received similar consumer complaints against NYSEG and its sister utility RG&E. The case has not been settled yet, but the two companies are facing the possibility of millions of dollars in fines.

If you have a complaint about a utility’s poor service, you can file a complaint with the New York State Public Service Commission by clicking on this link, and filling out a consumer complaint form.

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