According to the Long Island Power Authority, 99 percent of its customers will have power restored by tonight. However, thousands of Long Islanders who have damage to their electric systems will have to wait until equipment is fixed before the lights are turned back on, which could take months.
LIPA is in the middle of a PR shitstorm over its response to Hurricane Sandy, which crushed the East Coast two weeks ago.
As we reported last week, people — including Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said last week that “Privately, I have used language my daughters couldn’t hear” when describing LIPA’s response to the storm — are furious with the utilities company for its apparent lack of preparedness for the storm.
Other officials said last week that they plan to call on the military to take over managerial operations until the lights are turned back on.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Congressman Peter King said on Friday that they plan to ask the federal government for help in restoring power on Long Island, including asking the military to step in to run the restoration effort.
Also on Friday, Gus Garcia-Roberts — a former scribe for Voice sister paper the Miami New Times — penned an article for Newsday outlining “why LIPA failed.” He describes outdated infrastructure and old warnings that the utility company wasn’t prepared to handle a storm like Sandy.
From Garcia-Roberts’ story:
LIPA neglected basic maintenance to prevent outages, such as replacing rotting poles and trimming trees around power lines, according to a state report released by the Public Service Commission’s Public Service Department in June. The $3.7 billion-a-year government-owned corporation spent $37.5 million less than committed over five years on hardening the grid to
protect against major storm damage, according to the report.
Thursday, a Newsday reporter at the Hicksville headquarters of National Grid — the company contracted by LIPA to oversee operations — saw engineers who were using highlighters and paper maps to track thousands of outages, as ratepayers banged in frustration on the building’s locked front doors.
Garcia-Roberts reports that LIPA officials have been warning of their inability to respond to a storm as devastating as Sandy since 2006.
In a letter Cuomo sent utility CEOs — that we published in its entirety last week — the governor said “With respect to the Long Island Power Authority, I will make every change necessary to ensure it lives up to its public responsibility. It goes without saying that such failures would warrant the removal of the management responsible for such colossal misjudgments.”
As we mentioned last week, regardless of when the lights get turned back on on Long Island, it seems like heads are gonna roll over at LIPA.