Legislator Undertaking Review of Power Supplier's Emergency Plans

Legis. DeRiggi-Whitton criticizes LIPA's communication in wake of Tropical Storm Irene; examines preparedness in lieu of shift to new supplier in 2014.

As a first step in evaluating the county's readiness for another emergency like Tropical Storm Irene, county legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton met with a district manager for the Long Island Power Authority last month and is scheduled to meet with the county's Office of Emergency Management this week, her office said.

"It was simply unacceptable that residents in the 18th LD [legislative district] were out of power for a week because of a tropical storm," DeRiggi-Whitton said in a press release. 

The legislator, who is the ranking member on the legislature's towns, villages and cities committee, met with LIPA district manager Lauren Brookmeyer on January 23 to review the company's preparedness and was added to a special emergency contact list, according to the release.

In the event of an emergency, she will now be in direct contact with the company's CEO - one way to mitigate the lack of communication she blamed for the extended power outages after Irene struck in August.

"What I am hearing from our Office of Emergency Management is that LIPA offered no way to coordinate during Irene. I am also hearing from village and town officials that they could have cleared blocked roads and other debris much more quickly, but no one was available to work with them at LIPA to make sure live wires were cleared first," DeRiggi-Whitton said in the release. "Our residents are paying taxes to municipalities for dedicated DPW workers who will come out after a storm. They are also paying LIPA for power. Therefore, those service providers all need to function as a team when residents need it most."

The legislator's office said she will be meeting with OEM commissioner Craig Craft this week to hear what policy changes have been put into place and what remains to be addressed. She also plans on touring the agency's facilities. 

The effort comes after a state Senate hearing last year on LIPA's emergency preparedness, and in advance of the transition of the company's day-to-day operations to a new company after its contract with National Grid ends next year. 

Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) will assume responsibility starting January 1, 2014.


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