Con Edison faces a $500,000 fine if state investigators find that the utility mishandled its response to Tropical Storm Isaias, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday.

Cuomo's statement came after the Department of Public Service, the state body investigating Con Edison, sent a letter to the utility company forcing it to take corrective action for its “wholly inadequate response” following the storm that left 260,000 people without power in the five boroughs. The storm-related outages were the second worst next to Superstorm Sandy, the utility company said. The power slowly trickled back, with some New York City residents left without electricity service for more than a week during a heat wave and a pandemic.

“The Department’s initial investigation shows that Con Edison apparently failed to follow its Public Service Commission-ordered Emergency Response Plan’s (ERP) requirements relating to: (1) its damage assessment responsibilities; and (2) its published Estimated Time of Restoration (ETR) notices,” a letter to Con Edison from DPS said. “As you are aware, this is not the first time that the Commission has deemed Con Edison’s response to a major storm event to be inadequate, and the Department intends to specifically determine as part of its investigation whether Con Edison’s failures at issue here warrant revocation of its Certificate.”

For now, Con Edison is ordered to increase the number of contractors to expedite power restoration, ensure their command centers are operational, and coordinate a storm cleanup plan with local municipalities. The utility company was also cited for its website failing to update New Yorkers on the storm, poor communications, and inadequate staging. Usually, corrective actions are determined after the completion of investigation through a Notice of Apparent Violation. This time the state made an exception, issuing the notice before it wrapped up its investigation.

But despite the massive inconvenience the $500,000 fine Con Edison could be forced to pay amounts to a financial slap on the wrist, given the company’s $12 billion in annual revenues and $48 billion in assets.

The utility behemoth has faced stiffer fines after previous failures. In April, Con Edison settled a year-long DPS investigation for $15 million after crews were alleged to inadequately inspect a pipeline system. DPS has four other pending investigations against Con Edison.

Orange & Rockland and Central Hudson utility companies were also ordered to take immediate steps to rectify their storm-related responses. The state is also threatening to terminate PSE&G Long Island’s contract with the Long Island Power Authority if it finds they too mishandled their storm response that saw at least 420,000 customers lost power. PSE&G has now been ordered to give up $10 million in “incentive compensation,” equal to a company bonus, and redistribute it to customers who lost food, medicine, or both, during the storm in the form of a compensation program similar to what Con Edison has established.

At the height of the outage, close to 930,000 utility customers across the state were out of power, impacting 1.3 million people.

"The response to tropical storm Isaias by the electric utilities was completely unacceptable. Fifteen days later and we are still hearing complaints from families and businesses," Cuomo said in a statement. "With many weeks remaining in the hurricane season, we do not have the luxury of time -- utilities must act immediately to fix their broken storm response apparatus, and the Department of Public Service must act more swiftly to hold utilities accountable.”

In a statement to Gothamist, Allan Drury, a spokesperson for Con Edison, said the company is "focused on continuously improving. Our storm response plans enabled us to restore more than 300,000 customer outages from Tropical Storm Isaias more than two times faster than after Winter Storms Riley and Quinn and 1.5 times faster than Hurricane Irene. We are enhancing our reliability, resiliency and storm response in a variety of ways, including implementation of a resilience plan. That is essential at a time when climate change is making severe weather events more frequent and devastating for our customers.”

The investigation is expected to wrap up in six months.