UPDATE 1-Power back for most Long Island, NY, homes after Sandy

Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:25pm EST

* LIPA COO Hervey resigns due criticism over slow response
    * NY governor begins probe of state power companies
    * Flood-damaged homes need repairs before power restored
    * Over 8,000 LIPA customers that can receive power still out


    By Scott DiSavino
    NEW YORK, Nov 14 (Reuters) - The Long Island Power Authority
(LIPA) is close to restoring electric service to the last 7,000
Long Island, New York, homes and businesses able to receive
power, the company said on Wednesday, 16 days after Hurricane
Sandy battered the U.S. East Coast.
    However, another 38,000 customers in the flooded areas of
Long Island have yet to be surveyed for damage or may need
repairs and certification by an electrician before the company
can restore service.
    LIPA Chief Operating Officer Mike Hervey tendered his
resignation late on Tuesday after harsh criticism from customers
and politicians over the still ongoing restoration of service
from the superstorm two weeks ago and a nor'easter last week.
That resignation will be effective at the end of the year.
 
    LIPA, however, is a state-owned shell company that has only
about 100 employees. It has outsourced the operation of its
electric system to a unit of British power company National Grid
PLC, which has said it is responsible for implementing
LIPA's restoration plan.
    "Right now, our focus remains on helping the communities we
serve recover and rebuild from the devastation brought by
Hurricane Sandy and the Nor'easter," National Grid said in an
email response.
    Hervey's resignation came on the same day New York Governor
Andrew Cuomo announced an investigation into the state's
utilities. He said the problems exposed by the storm would
require a major overhaul of the power industry.
    "We will cooperate fully with (governor's) commission, and
look forward to the dialogue," National Grid said.
    Other hard-hit New York and New Jersey utilities had
restored power to most customers able to take service by last
weekend.
    Of the LIPA customers unable to receive power, 26,600 are on
the Rockaway Peninsula in New York City, fewer than 10,000 are
in Nassau County, about 1,500 are in Long Beach and 300 are in
Suffolk County.
    Sandy knocked out power to about 8.5 million customers in 21
states after hitting New Jersey on Oct. 29.
    More than 1 million of LIPA's 1.1 million customers lost
power due to Sandy. A nor'easter storm last week knocked out
123,000 more customers - thousands of whom had power restored
after Sandy.
    Combined, Sandy and the nor'easter knocked out more homes
and businesses on Long Island than LIPA has customers.
    LIPA was not the only power company with damaged homes that
cannot take power. More than 80,000 homes and businesses in New
Jersey and New York, including those on Long Island, will remain
dark, due primarily to flood damage, until owners make repairs.
    In New York City, Consolidated Edison Inc said this
week that it still had about 16,300 customers in flood-ravaged
areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island who could not regain
electric service until they fixed their internal equipment.
    In New Jersey, FirstEnergy Corp's Jersey Central
Power and Light utility has said about 30,000 customers on the
barrier islands and shoreline communities could not have power
restored due to infrastructure damage in that area.
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