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DeRiggi-Whitton: 'Hostility' From LIPA Pre-Sandy

Legislator says her public questioning of company's preparedness was answered with harsh rebuke by LIPA official.

After Tropical Storm Irene left many in her district without power for days, Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton had a series of meetings with Long Island Power Authority officials to examine how to prevent future failures.

The company's communications were a major focus, with a lack of coordination with Department of Public Works crews slowing power restoration and local government officials complaining that the company was inaccessible during and after Irene.

With the same criticisms leveled in the weeks since Sandy, DeRiggi-Whitton suggested the failures were as much an attitude problem as a lack of preparedness.

"The head of [LIPA's] Government and Community Relations, Tracy Burgess-Levy, called my office and chastised my staff about the fact that I was questioning LIPA’s storm readiness," the legislator said. "She assured my office definitively that LIPA had made major changes and that the failures of Irene were well behind them."

The power company did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

DeRiggi-Whitton said local mayors and other officials reported they had to circumvent management and work directly with LIPA crews, avoiding the very people whose role it was to ensure efficiency.

She said she and her staff spent hours immersing themselves in LIPA's restoration process. She pointed to a breakdown of management, evidenced by chief operating officer Michael Hervey's resignation, as a primary reason for the sub-par response.

An improvement, she said, would be some official oversight of the company's capabilities and policies.

"We were happy to get involved to help constituents, but I and all the mayors and other officials shouldn’t have had to chip in and help with LIPA’s job. That is why I have been suggesting that local officials could have some oversight or feedback regarding the power provider here," DeRiggi-Whitton said. "If we had to get involved at the micro level to get our residents’ lights back on, I think we have something to say now about who provides our power and how they do it."

tj December 13, 2012 at 10:45 AM
What is Mrs. DeRiggi's qualifications on investigating utility companies....???And what is her current position???
Vin NY December 13, 2012 at 11:54 AM
She has no clue.
John December 13, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Here we go, the political opportunists continue to strive for brownie points. First they regulate to death public utilities, then when something goes wacko it's all their fault and/or insensitivity for the customers! Let true competition be the arbitror if you are so concerned with users of public/monopolized services. You can start by letting Verizon FIOS TV services into Glen Cove so some of us can tell Cablevision to take a long walk over a short peer.
Mitchell Schlimer December 13, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Truth be told, if it was not for Delia and her efforts morning , noon, night and weekends, including Mayor Ralph Suozzi, my home in Glen Cove still might not have power back as LIPA is inept. Trust me, the last they wanted and needed was to be hounded by me and countless others, as the day and even weeks went by with no electric and no communication when we would have electric. I would never want to be a politician as it is a thankless job.
Julie Bold December 13, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Last August LIPA shut off power to much of my subdivision in Syosset to shore up their equipment in advance of hurricane season. I was without power for 10 hours that day and saw a few LIPA crews in the area (truth be told, some of them just seemed to be hanging out, not knowing what to do). Well we were without power for 15 days after Sandy so i would like to know what they accomplished. Actually, I know it was NOTHING.
John December 13, 2012 at 06:47 PM
I am sure LIPA and/or if it were LILCO did not perform to our passive expectations. The real culprit we have an aged utility distribution system and with our "not in my backyard" mentality it will never be fixed for a future Sandy. Our beautiful trees and above ground power lines cannot co-exist blaming the linemen and punching in the face out of state temporary workers do not reflect a positive image of Long Islanders, the me me me me and only for me crybabies. LIPA management let us down big time but without competition they or their replacement will not do any better. The treat of performing or you are out does not exist in monopolies, private or public and taking to court anyone for white collar crimes is a joke and a half. We pay one of the highest rates in the nation and get one of to lowest quality service, what do you expect with all the experts and not in my backyarders running around. The only way we can keep the service is pay through the nose and we do otherwise both management and workers will be hightailing out of here. Now can you imagine how much more it will cost to have an ever ready maintenance crew and equipment for any possible disaster?
John December 13, 2012 at 06:50 PM
......BTW I have never been affiliated with any utility companies and as a matter of fact I hate with a passion the fact that 37% or so of our utility bills are to pay School Taxes to other school districts when ours is heavy enough and then some. LILCO used to have the portion of the bill due to local property taxes stated on the back of their monthly invoices.
Vin NY December 13, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Keep thinking that Mitch
tj December 13, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Delia turned on your electric??? u guys had downed trees in huge estate back yards...it was a mess....these storm chasers that come in from other states were waiting for orders from and uncoordinated lipa......there needs to be a better system to use our out of state hired services,,,plain and simple...

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