Tag Archive | "LIPA"

David Alicea

Tags: , , , ,


David Alicea is part of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, which aims to unite grassroots activists around the country in order to move past the nation’s dependence on coal. Here he discusses the upcoming Rally for Renewables and other ways to move toward energy independence.

Last month, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Manhattan for the People’s Climate March. Now on this Thursday, October 30, the Sierra Club is hosting a rally for renewables. What is that in aid of?

Well it’s an hour before LIPA’s board meeting. They have two board meetings left in the year, on October 30 and December 17. We expect on December 17 they will make a decision whether to move forward or not on an offshore wind project 30 miles off of Montauk. So we saw this board meeting in October as kind of the last public opportunity to really come out there and show the overwhelming support for wind energy from a diversity of voices and to really make it known we’re going to have to rally.

Who are some of the people slated to speak at Thursday’s rally?

We have a pretty good lineup. There will be Lisa Tyson from the Long Island Progressive Coalition, Maureen Murphy for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Stephan Edel from the Center of Working Families, Jeremy Samuelson from the Concerned Citizens of Montauk is trying to make his way out, Gordian Raacke from Renewable Energy Long Island and Catherine Bowes from the National Wildlife Federation. We have some of your basic environmental groups, we have progressive voices, we have conservation focus groups who ask hard questions about new development projects. We’ll also have some staff from elected officials offices in the board meeting itself to also deliver statements on behalf of their legislators.

Do you have any sort of inkling as to whether or not the LIPA board and Governor Cuomo will approve the Deepwater ONE project? 

In August there was some concern that they were going to put all of their decisions on hold. We were pretty concerned because—“On hold ’til when?” Originally, the commitment for 400 MW of renewable energy was made in 2012. Then you had LIPA reorganization, which delayed things, but they promised us they still would make a decision once reorganization settled down. And so we put a lot of pressure on the governor and LIPA over summer and they promised they would make a decision by the end of the year, which I think was a big victory. This process is the best chance for offshore wind. Which way LIPA and the governor will go, I don’t know. I think we’ve been pretty good in showing the overwhelming purport. We have polling data that shows more than 80 percent of Long Islanders support this, we should have at least 50 people there for Thursday’s middle-of-the-day event and normally no one goes to LIPA board meetings. But, the decision will be made behind closed doors sometime over the next month, or month and a half.

Election Day is just around the corner. What are some of the things our elected officials should be doing to continue to combat climate change? 

We’ve seen the Town of East Hampton with its 100-percent by 2020 goal. Honestly, this is like a national example of leadership on climate issues. So I think now it’s operationalizing and making sure they reach that goal is the challenge they have. And that’s where we feel the Deepwater project fits in, in really helping them achieve that, but I think they’re going to keep doing great things to sort of make sure that comes through and we’ve been working really closely with Senator LaValle and others on being on the forefront of wind energy. We’ve just sent a letter to the governor about this. So I think it’s really having them keep doing the great work they’re doing and having the East End serve as a real example. We could set the stage for the rest of Long Island, for the state and the nation. It’s a really exciting movement.

The Rally for Renewable Energy will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, October 30, at LIPA HQ, 333 Earle Ovington Boulevard in Uniondale. Those interested in carpooling from the East End should call Dea Million at (612) 644-1162.



Solar Developer Chosen

Tags: , , , , ,

The East Hampton Town Board on Thursday, September 18, authorized options for the lease of three town properties for solar array development to a California-based company. SunEdison, which has offices all over the world, responded to the town’s request for proposals to lease town-owned land for renewable energy facilities.

SunEdison have proposed to lease sites on Accabonac Highway, Bull Path and Northwest Road and Springs-Fireplace Road. The company will be required to pay rent to the town and sell electricity it produces to PSEG Long Island.

After a 90-day period, SunEdison will begin paying the town lease option payments based on the proposed mega-wattage that will be produced by each of the sites. The company is expected to pay the town up to $80,900 per year.

SunEdison will now proceed to site-plan review with the planning board and “other approvals as may be necessary for each specific project.”

During the approval process and while the company “otherwise determines the feasibility of proceeding with each project,” SunEdison will pay lease option payments to the town for up to three years. After that point, the leases will be for 20-year periods.

In other sunny news, a sales person from Green Logic addressed the town board on Thursday about a new East Hampton Building Department policy the solar company worries will deter potential panel-installers.

Lifelong East Hampton resident Sara Topping, who works for Green Logic, said the Building Department recently informed the company it must obtain new surveys upon the completion of solar panel installations. The new surveys, she said, are designed to prevent over-clearing, which “is obviously a goal and environmental issue we support,” she said.

“It really just transfers into an additional fee for the homeowner,” she said. Supervisor Larry Cantwell said he would discuss the issue with the building inspector and have an answer for Ms. Topping next week.

PSEG Gets an Earful in East Hampton

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Heller_PSEG Public Meeting 8-26-14_4568_LR

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach, Jr., and East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell listened to a presentation by Mike Voltz of PSEG and a public hearing at the East Hampton Emergency Services Building on Tuesday, August 26. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

There was hardly a spare seat in the house on Tuesday, August 26, for an informational session and public hearing hosted by the State Department of Public Services on PSEG Long Island’s Utility 2.0 Long-Range Plan.

PSEG Long Island, a subsidiary of New Jersey-based PSEG, submitted the plan to the DPS on July 1, and almost immediately came under fire for failing to provide specifics about it as well as its decision to install 50-to-65-foot utility poles through portions of East Hampton Village last winter.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell and East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. wrote a joint letter to PSEG, asking that it hold a public meeting in East Hampton because the utility targeted the East End for major upgrades in the plan.

“We believe the Utility 2.0 Long Range Plan needs clarification, detail and public discussion, and we urge a public dialogue for this plan for the Town and Village of East Hampton,” they wrote.

“This is a time my office can hear you, your concerns and take it all into account,” said Julia Bovey, director the New York State Department of Public Services, who hosted the meeting.

And hear from people she did, with many people lining up to once again voice their objections to the installation of the poles.

“They’re an assault on our very core,” said town resident Elena Prohaska Glynn.  “We cannot afford to despoil the landscape. Remove them; bury those lines,” she said to much applause from the audience on Tuesday night.

The new poles have resulted in the creation of two organizations—Save East Hampton and Long Island Businesses For Renewable Energy, a stop-work order issued by the town and even a lawsuit.

Some wore bright orange Save East Hampton t-shirts with “Bury The Lines” written on the back. Many of the orange shirt wearers spoke not about the new plan, but about what they feel to be a more pressing issue: the danger and unsightliness of the new, taller poles in the village.

“It’s not only a matter of aesthetics, it’s a matter of life and death,” said Helen Mendez. “Be the company that you say you are, help us have green solutions. Do what’s safe, do what’s right and bury the lines.”

All three elected officials who spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting also called for the new lines to be buried, including State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.

“They have been willing over and over again to tax themselves to protect the quality of life here,” he said of his constituents.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell also called for the lines to be buried, to thunderous applause.

Jeremy Samuelson, president of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, gave DPS and PSEG Long Island some “history.” He explained that the public meeting process prior to the installation of the taller poles left much to be desired. The process lacked any transparency or community engagement from the utility company, he said.

“You come back a year later, and you have to eat some crow,” he said to the representatives from the DPS and PSEG. “You guys got it wrong, so that’s the history.”

“The question is,” he continued, “are you going to be our partners in fixing this mess? This thing is an atrocity; I won’t sugarcoat it for you. So the question is: LIPA isn’t in charge anymore. Are you going to help us find the somewhere between $20 million and $30 million to fix this mess?” he asked.

Elected officials and environmentalists also seemed unsatisfied by the lack of consideration for the town’s existing policy. “With regard to the presentation: that is something we would like to see more of, alternatives to fossil fuels,” Mr. Thiele said.

“The town has adopted a very important and ambitious goal,” Mr. Cantwell said of East Hampton’s decision to power all of its community-wide electricity needs with renewable energy by the year 2020. “I would urge that the power sources on the South Fork be met with renewable energy sources,” he said.

Gordian Raacke, president of Renewable Energy Long Island (RELI) criticized the shortsightedness of the plan. “I know you will make sure that while PSEG may not be in the room anymore, they will hear our comments,” he said to Ms. Bovey—about 20 minutes prior to that, it had become apparent that Mike Voltz, the director of energy efficiency and renewables for PSEG Long Island, who gave an overview of the plan, had left the meeting in the middle of the hearing.

“The plan is not a 2.0 plan. At best it’s a utility 1.1. It’s more business as usual and fails to provide a vision for utility or the future,” he said. “Work with the Town of East Hampton, work with us to build a sustainable energy future and we’ll work with you.”

PSEG needs “to be a collaborator, not an opponent,” he added. “You need to propose a better plan.

The meeting kicked off with a presentation by Mr. Voltz, who tried to shed some light on the plan and presented a series of slides and bullet points.

Mr. Voltz discussed items on the five-year plan, including a call to spend approximately $60 million on energy saving steps over the next five years, including providing programmable thermostats to upward of 60,000 residential customers.

The plan also includes a four-year-long educational campaign, at a cost of $8 million, an energy efficiency expansion in the Rockaways, which was explained in great detail as well and a $15 million initiative that would aim to install 6,000 new advanced meters in hard-to-reach locations.

The information on South Fork improvements left much to be desired, according to some of those who spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting. In that section of Mr. Voltz’s presentation, he discussed plans to use solar energy, battery storage and programmable thermostats, and also discussed the need for new generators to boost electricity output during periods of peak usage in Montauk, and other places. “They’re very old,” Mr. Voltz said of the generators, “they’re getting worn out.”

East Hampton Residents Sue PSEG LI and LIPA

Tags: , , , , ,












New power lines on Cedar Street in East Hampton. Photo by Mara Certic


By Mara Certic

Citing the presence of potentially dangerous toxins in electric utility lines being erected by PSEG Long Island in East Hampton Town, a group of residents has filed suit against the company and the Long Island Power Authority in New York State Supreme Court.

The Long Island Bureau For Responsible Energy (LIBFRE) filed the suit on behalf of a group of residents who live near the poles. It claims the overhead transmission lines will negatively affect wells and drinking water for the 300-plus people they represent.

A press release issued on Thursday by the group stated that an environmental review of the project by LIPA had “failed to disclose the adverse cumulative impact of the project on health, property values and alternatives, and intentionally misrepresented them.”

The group is being represented by former special counsel to Suffolk County, Irving Like, and Professor Leon Friedman who once represented the boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who had been wrongly convicted of murder.

The suit claims that a banned chemical in 26 countries, pentachlorophenol (PCP), has been placed on wooden utility poles and has been leaching dangerous toxins into the soil in the surrounding area and is also emitting toxic gases into the air.

According to Rebecca Singer, co-chair of LIBFRE, the level of PCP in East Hampton soil was recently tested and was found to have more than 312 times the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s acceptable level.

PCP has been used as a wood preservative since 1936. It has also been used as an insecticide, an herbicide, a sealant, and a molluskicide, among others. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants showed that exposure to PCP can interfere with endocrine processes in humans and has been found to stunt brain development, impair memory and even cause infertility in women, the suit states.

A hydrogeologist’s report says that the PCP will contaminate East Hampton’s groundwater, eventually traveling into Hook, Georgica and Town Ponds.

The second concern in the suit is that the high voltage power lines that are being added to the existing lines might result in electromagnetic fields dangerously close to houses on narrow streets.

The suit also charges that the new utility poles are damaging trees and vegetation along the 6.2-mile route along which they have been installed. According to Thursday’s press release, experts have already noted that there has been damage done to the landscape.

The final cause of action is the suit is the claim that the high levels of PCPs in the soil and water have drastically devalued the property for all of the houses in close proximity to the new poles.

The complaint demands that the utility pole project be cancelled and restitution in excess of $30 million to cover attorneys’ fees, removal costs and emotional distress of the residents involved.

Pierson Students Evacuated Monday Due to Strange Odor

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A student navigates the halls of Pierson High School. Photo by Michael Heller.

A student navigates the halls of Pierson High School. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

Just before the end of the school day Monday, the students and staff of Pierson High School were evacuated after administrators observed electrical problems and smelled a strange odor coming from the basement.

“We started to have some blinking lights and we smelled an odor by the motors in the basement,” Dr. Carl Bonuso, interim superintendent for the Sag Harbor School District, said Tuesday morning. “So, as a precautionary measure in the interest, obviously, of safety, we did evacuate the building.”

Pierson students were dismissed on schedule to buses or for parent pick up. All after-school activities were cancelled. All belongings left behind were secured in the classrooms, the district said. The Sag Harbor Elementary School was not affected.

According to PSEG Long Island, roughly 337 customers in the area, including the school, were affected at 2:02 p.m. Monday afternoon due to a down wire. The problem was corrected and full service was restored by 2:43 p.m., PSEG representative Anthony S. said Tuesday.

The Sag Harbor Fire Department and electricians investigated the problem, addressing lighting and heating concerns, and cleared the building for “safety and proper operation” at around 3:30 p.m. the district said.

“This morning we’re pretty good,” Dr. Bonuso said early Tuesday morning.

In a letter sent out to parents, students and staff shortly after 4 p.m. Monday, the district wrote, “Rest assured that teachers will be forgiving of any homework or assignments that would have been otherwise due.”

“What we wanted to make sure was if someone didn’t have their book or notes to study, not only that they didn’t need to do the homework, but that they didn’t get penalized on an assessment,” Dr. Bonuso said.

On Tuesday morning, teachers supervised the retrieval of any belongings left behind by students the afternoon before.

“I commend the students and the staff,” said Dr. Bonuso, “they were all so cooperative and we handled that glitch very well.”

Thiele: Local Power Plants Should be Permitted

Tags: , , , , , , ,

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced this week he has introduced legislation in the State Assembly which would permit local governments — county, city, town or village — on Long Island to consider the creation of municipal power companies.

There are over 40 municipalities across the state which have established municipal power companies, including a few on Long Island such as the villages of Greenport, Freeport, and Rockville Centre. Since 1986, local governments on Long Island have been prohibited from forming a new municipal utility by state law. The reason: the law that created the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), a state authority, preempts counties, towns, villages, and cities from establishing a municipal power company within LIPA’s service area.

“The original intent of LIPA was twofold: (1) to prevent the unsafe Shoreham Nuclear power Station from operating, and (2) to eliminate LILCO, a private utility and replace it with a public authority governed by a board elected by the people of Long Island,” said Thiele in a press release. “The second goal, a true public utility governed by Long Islanders, has never been fulfilled as it was envisioned in 1986. It has never been governed by Long Islanders, and it has never been a ‘real’ public utility. It has never been more than a ‘shell’ corporation operated by political appointees who then contracted out operations to another private company. The perversion of this intent has meant disaster for Long Island, most recently manifested by the LIPA response to Superstorm Sandy.”

“It is clear that the intent of the 1986 law and the goal of a state public utility for Long Island are not going to be fulfilled,” added Thiele. “LIPA will remain as an empty shell and the day to day operations of Long Island’s electric service will be performed by an out-of-state private utility company. The details of this proposal are still to be worked out. Whether this model will result in an accountable and transparent management structure that will provide reliable power and long term stable rates is also unclear. However, the possibility of public power should not be fully abandoned and the home rule powers of local government on Long Island should be restored. My bill would do both. In the future, Long Islanders should have the ability to choose municipal power, if they believe it would be superior to the proposed near-privatization model currently under consideration.”

“We should never limit any future options that could improve electric service for Long Islanders,” he added. “Long Island should not be treated differently than the rest of the state.”


Power, Gas Restored to Most of Suffolk County

Tags: , , , ,

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.

Lights Returns to Main Street, Sag Harbor; Schools Remained Closed as East End Reels from Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

Tags: , , , ,

By Kathryn G. Menu; Photography by Michael Heller

Hurricane Sandy pummeled the northeast on Monday and Tuesday, on the East End claiming the life of a Montauk resident, causing massive flooding and beach erosion, leaving close to 60,000 residents of the South Fork without power and closing local schools, some for as long as a week.

“Superstorm Sandy,” as the hurricane has been coined, made landfall just south of Atlantic City, N.J. around 8 p.m. as a “post-tropical cyclone,” flooding coastal areas from Delaware to Connecticut with a vicious storm surge and carrying winds as high as 90 miles per hour.

Both East Hampton and Southampton towns, as well as the South Fork villages declared a State of Emergency on Monday as Sandy approached the region, opening up shelters in Riverhead, Hampton Bays, East Hampton and at Pierson Middle/High School. Over 600 people made use of the shelters as the storm battered the East End, including about 30 residents of the Sag Harbor area who took shelter at the high school as of Monday evening, according to Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano.

Despite the damage, including one Wainscott beach-front home that was literally obliterated, among many others damaged by flooding and high winds, the East End was partially spared. Original models for Hurricane Sandy had her wrath impacting the East End of Long Island for as long as 24 hours, throughout Monday evening and into Tuesday afternoon. However, as Hurricane Sandy neared the coast the storm picked up momentum, the worst of the wind gusts affecting the East End in the evening on Monday instead of the prolonged hours of impact originally predicted.

While it may have not have appeared to be so for the thousands of residents and businesses without power by Wednesday afternoon, including Main Street, Sag Harbor, the East End was also sparred the brunt of power outages, roughly half of residents and business owners without power in East Hampton and Southampton Town, as opposed to the 85 percent of homes and businesses island-wide that were left in the dark, according to Long Island Power Authority spokesperson Mark Gross.


However, school districts across the South Fork remained closed as of Wednesday, with the East Hampton and Sag Harbor School Districts as well as Our Lady of the Hamptons (OLH) announcing they would not reopen for classes until Monday, November 5. Southampton School District will also remain closed today, Thursday, November 1, while the Bridgehampton School, which had power on Wednesday, reopened for classes today.

However, there was tragedy associated with the Sandy’s impact on the South Fork.

Edith “Dee” Wright, 52, of Montauk was confirmed by East Hampton Village Police to be the body discovered Tuesday morning on Georgica Beach in East Hampton.

It is believed that Wright was walking her dog on a beach in Montauk when she was carried into the ocean and perished.

Montauk appeared to take the brunt of the storm compared to the rest of the region, becoming an island for several hours Monday night as ocean waters met marsh after crossing Napeague Highway.

Because of the rising tide, impacted by the storm surge and full moon, several docks in Montauk reported damage.

In Sag Harbor, by Monday morning Bay Street was impassable between the Sag Harbor Yacht Club and the Sag Harbor VFW Chelberg & Battle Post 388, swans and ducks swimming in the makeshift lake that was created as rain began battering down on the region that afternoon.

Crews from the Sag Harbor Department of Public Works buoyed the John A. Ward Memorial Windmill on Long Wharf with barriers of sand to protect the delicate structure — now under restoration — from being swept up in the rising tide that lashed Windmill Beach, the Lance Corporal Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge and Long Wharf.

Flooding also occurred behind Main Street, Sag Harbor, creating another impassable water body on West Water Street and Long Island Avenue.

Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department officials made several rescues in the Redwood and Pine Neck areas of Sag Harbor, where officials were going door-to-door in an effort to evacuate residents living in low lying areas affected by a storm surge.

By Wednesday, the water behind Main Street had yet to fully dissipate despite the efforts of the Sag Harbor Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley, who Mayor Brian Gilbride said worked with fire department volunteers to pump out over four million gallons of water by Wednesday morning. While Long Island Avenue was cleared, said Mayor Gilbride, the back street behind Main Street remained flooded.

“We are catching up and the water is going down,” said Mayor Gilbride.

Mayor Gilbride said in an effort to get the rest of Sag Harbor up and running, the village would bring in a handful of tree companies on Thursday to begin cutting down fallen trees and freeing up power crews to focus specifically on fixing power lines.

As an impromptu Pumpkin Trail became a reality on Main Street, Sag Harbor on Wednesday afternoon — Halloween — with shopkeepers and residents bringing candy into the village for costumed children as many stores remained closed for business, the lights on Main Street were revived. Children could be heard cheering as the lights came on, reported one resident.

“As tough as this has been, and I understand many people are still without power, after talking with [Congressman] Tim Bishop, East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, I think we have really dodged a bullet compared to the rest of the region,” said Mayor Gilbride on Wednesday. “A lot of that has to do with our volunteers, who have been working for two days to get us through this.”

LIPA: Power Outages Could Last Weeks

Tags: , , , ,

By Kathryn G. Menu; Photography by Michael Heller

The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) warned East End residents on Wednesday that while it predicted power would be fully restored to nearly a million customers left in the dark after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the New York metropolitan area on Monday, it could, in fact, be weeks before power is fully restored to the island.

As of Wednesday morning, Main Street, Sag Harbor remained dark, the Municipal Building alone lit with the power of a generator.

Large swaths of Southampton and East Hampton towns were also left without power.

“To put this in perspective, once the storm left, it left us with almost a million LIPA customers without power,” said LIPA spokesman Mark Gross. “Last year, with Hurricane Irene, we had about 500,000 customers without power and unlike Irene, Sandy impacted us for two-and-a-half days and really pounded our system.”

Gross said right now LIPA was in the assessment phase, locating damaged transmission lines, substations and neighborhoods. Restoration of transmission lines, the “backbone” of the energy grid, said Gross, is the first step LIPA takes in a massive outage of this nature, and after that crews get to work restoring substations before going into neighborhoods.

Emergency care and service facilities, like hospitals and firehouses are prioritized, said Gross, and as crews are out in the field any restoration that can occur is completed. Priorities are given to the largest areas affected, added Gross.

“We did say seven to 10 days originally, but this storm was worse than anyone could have predicted,” said Gross. “Customers should be prepared to wait a little longer than that.”

LIPA is bringing in crews from across the country, said Gross, and already has crews from Michigan, Iowa and even as far as California.

As of Wednesday morning at 10:15 a.m., a total of 866,070 LIPA customers remained without power. In Suffolk County, 406,141 were without power.

In Southampton Town, 34,368 residents were without electricity and in East Hampton 18,160 remained in the dark. Those numbers included, 1,611 Sag Harbor LIPA customers without power, 3,582 in Bridgehampton, 431 in North Haven, 1,130 in North Sea, 512 in Noyac and 1,183 on Shelter Island.

“A workforce of more than 5,000 strong is working around the clock and will continue to do so until everybody has power,” said LIPA in a statement issued Wednesday morning.

“Safety should still be your highest priority,” continued the statement. “Assume any downed wire is a live electric wire. Stay away from it and report it to LIPA immediately, anytime at 1-800-490-0075.”


As August Approaches, Towns Host Hurricane Preparedness Seminar

Tags: , , , ,

By Amanda Wyatt

As hurricane season nears, elected officials on the East End are joining forces with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) to better prepare residents for whatever wicked weather may come our way.

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Shelter Island Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty are all slated to join LIPA’s Chief Operating Officer, Michael Hervey, at the upcoming East End Hurricane Preparedness Seminar.

The event, which is scheduled for Thursday, July 26 at 6 p.m., will take place at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton.

“I think based on last year’s experience with Tropical Storm Irene, there’s room for improvement in our response to hurricanes and tropical storms,” Thiele said in an interview. “And that’s why I’ve joined together with the East End towns and LIPA to present this seminar.”

“One of the purposes of this meeting, from my perspective, is to hear what LIPA has done to upgrade and improve their storm response plan,” admitted Thiele. “I thought last year that their communication with the public was somewhat lacking.”

Thiele went on to say it would help “demonstrate, particularly in LIPA’s case, what lessons were learned through the failures that occurred last year.”

Last August, the East End was battered by the outer bands of Tropical Storm Irene, which was downgraded from hurricane strength just prior to coming ashore. Long Island dodged a bullet in the form of the flooding which destroyed whole communities in upstate New York. However, in the aftermath of Irene, many residents across Suffolk County were left without power, some for well over a week.

“It was very difficult even for elected officials to get information about what LIPA was doing during the response to the storm,” said Thiele. “I think the linemen and the personnel who were on the ground fixing the power lines did a good job.”

In an interview, Supervisor Wilkinson said LIPA has been working to correct past communication issues.

“Mike Hervey had several meetings and briefings both up the island and locally to ensure that the troops on the ground are getting the appropriate direction from the command structure,” said Wilkinson.

“LIPA continues to identify and implement new measures to improve our storm communications and restoration procedures — such as our mobile web site and texting service to report and receive outage information from handheld devices — as well as enhanced coordination with municipalities on tree and debris removal,” said Hervey in a press release issued last week.

“In addition, I encourage residents to start preparing now to reduce the effects of any natural disaster and plan for a multi-day outage,” added Hervey. “This includes planning a hurricane route, preparing an emergency kit, and making sure you are able to stay connected to the latest weather reports and emergency broadcast.”

While LIPA has worked on its own preparedness initiatives, so have local governments. According to Supervisor Wilkinson, East Hampton has “gone through rather extensive incident command training in the past year.”

He said East Hampton works essentially “as one unit under the Emergency Operations Center.” The police department, parks and highway division, human service department, marine patrol, and even volunteer ocean rescue are all involved in hurricane preparedness.

Wilkinson mentioned the town had purchased new generators for backup power, just in case there are any issues with existing generators.

“As we get closer and closer to August with the water being as warm as it is, we have to be especially diligent this year,” he said.

“Preparation is essential to our ability to manage the impacts of major storm events,” added Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst in the press release issued announcing the event.  “As we were reminded by Tropical Storm Irene last fall, our area is prone to power outages during high wind events.”

According to Thiele, representatives at the seminar will discuss how the towns work with their fire departments, ambulance services and police departments in preparing for emergencies.

“It will be an opportunity for the towns to get out the information early, before a storm, about how they would address some of these emergencies,” he explained.

Thiele added the seminar would help people create an information package in preparation for tropical storms or hurricanes.

“I think it’s important that one way or another people get information and have their own individual plans, depending on where you live,” said Thiele. “It’s important each individual household know what they’re going to do in case of a storm, if the power goes out.”

“We’re working together on an intergovernmental basis to get people as much information as they can,” added Thiele. “There will certainly be a lot of useful information for people to incorporate in their own plans.”

Wilkinson agreed, saying it was important “continue to prepare and continue to share information, and to keep it fresh, keep it topical, and keep it in front of the public’s eyes.”

“I don’t think there’s a time, especially when you deal with hurricanes, that you can be over-prepared and you can over-communicate,” said Wilkinson.