LIPA's future remains uncertain

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According to its report, 951,000 of LIPA’s 1.1 million customers lost power during Hurricane Sandy’s peak. In East Meadow, approximately 3,700 customers were still without power on Nov. 9, 11 days after the storm. Residents, fed up with the utility, held a rally in neighboring Levittown the following day, demanding power restoration. One of their primary complaints was the lack of communication between LIPA and its customers.

The Moreland Commission concluded in its report that the “unique relationship” between LIPA and National Grid led “to public confusion about the provision of customer and operational service.” The report went on to say that the two entities have separate emergency plans. LIPA’s plan is the Storm Emergency Response Policy, a 50-page document that assigns responsibility for oversight of emergencies as well as for key operational and communications decisions during an emergency.

National Grid’s plan, the Emergency Response Implementation Plan, breaks down its procedures by operational function. “The situation creates a lack of clarity about which entity is ultimately responsible during an actual emergency,” the report said.

National Grid’s contract with LIPA expires at the end of this year. On Jan. 1, 2014, PSEG Long Island LLC, an indirect subsidiary of the Public Service Enterprise Group, a regulated, publicly owned gas and electric utility company based in New Jersey, will take National Grid’s place, providing its services exclusively to LIPA and its customers. The approval for PSEG to replace National Grid was formally granted by the state’s attorney general and comptroller in June 2012.

The replacement of National Grid — which became official four months before Hurricane Sandy — may have affected its performance during the storm, McKevitt said. “National Grid had no incentive to do a good job back then, because they had already been fired by the time Sandy came,” he said.

McKevitt added that PSEG officials have met with the Assembly, and offered assurances that “they will do a far superior job than National Grid.
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