By Kathryn G. Menu
Despite a nor’easter that hampered crews trying to restore power to the literal thousands of Long Island residents still without electricity two and a half weeks after Hurricane Sandy, by Wednesday afternoon most of the East End was back on the grid with just a handful of residents still without power, according to the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA).
As of 12:37 p.m. on Wednesday, LIPA reported 1,983 customers in Suffolk County remained without power, nine in East Hampton Town, and 21 in Southampton Town.
According to LIPA, 99 percent of customers who can safely receive power are fully restored. Although LIPA power is available, up to 8,000 customers in Nassau and Suffolk and 27,000 in the Rockaways are unable to safely receive power without customer repairs, said LIPA in a press release issued on Tuesday night.
To date, more than 1.1 million LIPA customers have had service restored since Hurricane Sandy made landfall in southern New Jersey on October 29.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo blasted LIPA officials on Tuesday and announced he would have New York utilities investigated. The announcement came shortly before LIPA’s Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey announced his resignation.
On Tuesday, Governor Cuomo signed an Executive Order to establish a commission under the Moreland Act that will investigate the response, preparation and management of New York’s power utility companies as storms like Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee have impacted the region over the last two years.
According to Governor Cuomo, the commission will examine and make recommendations to reform what he called the “overlapping responsibilities and missions” of New York’s utility companies and the governing bodies that oversee them.
On Tuesday, shortly after the Governor’s announcement, LIPA Chairman Howard E. Steinberg announced Hervey’s resignation. Hervey was with LIPA for 12 years, taking over as interim CEO two years ago.
“I think we have a system here that is so convoluted and lacking in accountability,” said New York Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele on Wednesday. “LIPA is basically a shell corporation filled with political appointments and they contract out for power, which has been with National Grid, which I never supported because of their lack of effectiveness in New Jersey.”
In July it was announced LIPA would transition its operating services agreement from National Grid to Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) starting in January of 2014 when the contract with National Grid expires.
“LIPA needs to be held accountable to the people of Long Island and the best way to do that is to have an elected board of trustees, something I have supported for a long time,” said Thiele.
While the East End also faced a gas shortage over the course of the last week and a half, as of this week the panic seemed to have died down and most stations have more than enough gas on hand to service clients.
On Friday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone implemented an even, odd fueling policy, mandating only drivers with license plates ending in an even number can fuel up on even numbered days, with the same policy applying to odd numbered days.
According to Harbor Heights gas station manager Pam Kern, the decision came about a week too late and by the time she was told to implement that policy, it was unnecessary.
Harbor Heights, on Route 114 in Sag Harbor, said Kern is not expecting another shortage any time soon. Anthony Baker, who works at the Sag Harbor Getty Station on the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike said it was business as usual at his station as well.