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State plans outside audit of Con Ed

The audit would assess the utility's ability to meet its performance goals and objectives as well as include suggestions for improvement, the commission said.State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), who has blasted Con Ed for its performance during the 10-day western Queens blackout of July 2006 and has long called for an independent audit of the utility, said the PSC's plan was overdue."This independent audit of Con Edison's management has been a long time coming," he said. "If these audits were to take place more regularly, as they should have, who knows how many of the recent Con Edison disasters could have been avoided?"A Con Ed spokesman said the company would cooperate with the PSC and that utilities are regularly audited.But Gianaris said the last time the state audited the utility was in 1988."We have to follow through to make sure the PSC continues to audit them on a regular basis," he said.Among other things, the audit will review the roles of the utility's board of directors; assess whether Con Ed is meeting performance goals for electricity, natural gas and steam delivery; look at the utility's infrastructure planning; and review the utility's day-to-day workforce management, the PSC said.The commission said it would release a report on the independent audit in late 2009."This comprehensive management and operations audit of Con Edison will be thorough and it will focus on the company's construction program planning processes and operational efficiency," PSC Chairman Garry Brown said. "Of particular importance will be the assistance provided by the consultant in evaluating root causes that may inhibit Con Edison's ability to make sustainable, long-term improvements."Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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