Long Island Power Authority, which at one point had 1.1 million customers without power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, said Wednesday it is close to restoring power to the last 8,000 homes and businesses that can receive power – more than two weeks after the hurricane ravaged the East Coast leaving more than 8 million customers in 21 states in the dark.
But there remain some 38,000 customers in the areas of Long Island that flooded whose homes and businesses need to be checked and/or repaired before they can have their service restored. Consolidated Edison and New Jersey Central Power and Light also have thousands of customers in a similar predicament, according to CNBC.
And the fallout over slow service restoration, not just by LIPA, has resulted in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo creating a commission with subpoena powers to investigate how the state’s utilities prepared for and reacted to Sandy and other recent storms.
“From Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, to Hurricane Sandy, over the past two years New York has experienced some of the worst natural disasters in our state’s history,” Cuomo said in a statement. “As we adjust to the reality of more frequent major weather incidents, we must study and learn from these past experiences to prepare for the future.”
The commission will also look at the overlapping entities involved in the New York power system. “As evidenced by Hurricane Sandy, the existing labyrinth of regulatory bodies, state agencies and authorities, and quasi-governmental bodies has contributed to a dysfunctional utility system,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Cuomo is seeking $30 billion from the federal government for infrastructure repairs and economic losses caused by the hurricane, according to BusinessWeek.
In the face of the criticism from politicians and customers over the lengthy restoration, CNBC reported that LIPA Chief Operating Officer Mike Hervey resigned late Tuesday. The CNBC report also notes that LIPA is a “state-owned shell company” with only about 100 employees. Operation of its electric system is outsourced to a division of Britain-based National Grid.
LIPA and National Grid are both named in a lawsuit a New York attorney has filed in the state Supreme Court on the behalf of two Long Island residents. The action alleges negligence by the power companies in the wake of Sandy and the Nor’easter that followed. Examiner.com says it is the beginning of a class action lawsuit that other Sandy victims are invited to join.