UPDATE 1-S&P revises NY's Long Island Power Auth outlook to negative

Thu Dec 6, 2012 1:42pm EST

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Dec 6 (Reuters) - Standard & Poor's Ratings Service on Thursday revised New York's Long Island Power Authority credit outlook to negative from stable, because of concerns that lengthy storm-related power outages have created political obstacles to rate increases.

The rating agency also affirmed its rating on the authority's A-minus bonds, affecting $6.6 billion of debt.

"The outlook revision reflects our view that protracted power outages following Superstorm Sandy contribute to a political climate that diminishes the utility's rate-making and financial flexibility," said S&P credit analyst David Bodek in a statement.

S&P also said it was concerned about abrupt resignations of several key LIPA officials in the wake of widespread outages after Sandy made landfall on Oct. 29.

LIPA's CEO, its board chairman, a trustee and vice president of customer service quit, S&P said.

"Abrupt leadership departures have created a vacuum that could hamper LIPA's ability to address the potentially substantial financial and operational problems Sandy's damage caused," S&P said.

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