The Next Big One: Is LIPA prepared?

In the weeks after Superstorm Sandy struck Long Island, outrage and frustration with the Long Island Power Authority reached a fever pitch. Hundreds of thousands

Critics and customers of LIPA are furious over a new report by a state panel that uncovered breathtaking waste and lack of oversight at the utility.

Critics and customers of LIPA are furious over a new report by a state panel that uncovered breathtaking waste and lack of oversight at the utility. (7/29/13)

WOODBURY - In the weeks after Superstorm Sandy struck Long Island, outrage and frustration with the Long Island Power Authority reached a fever pitch. Hundreds of thousands of people were left in the dark with no relief in sight, and no way to find out when they could hope to have power again.

State investigations and published reports in the wake of the storm have blasted LIPA for being drastically under-prepared for the storm. The allegations include neglected maintenance and an obsolete computer system that had workers using pencil and paper to track the outages. After the storm, LIPA's website that was designed to inform consumers on the status of repairs was left mostly blank.

LIPA's dismal response to the storm sparked such scrutiny that the utility is now being dismantled. But with another hurricane season already upon the East Coast, many Long Islanders are wondering: is the power grid ready for the next big one?

LIPA insists the answer is yes. Just today, Gov. Cuomo signed a bill to overhaul LIPA, and it has already handed off most of its communications and coordination responsibilities to its partner, National Grid. That company says it plans to deploy teams of "damage assessors," who will be well-equipped with iPads so they can input their findings in an instant.

The company also says dozens of "liasons" will be in constant communication with sub-stations across the Island to track what has been restored, what areas are next on the list, what resources are needed and what challenges are popping up.

To keep customers informed, National Grid says information about specific areas will be available online, and customers can also sign up for email and text alerts.

Next year, National Grid will be handing off its management of the electric grid to New Jersey-based energy provider PSEG. LIPA's contract with National Grid will expire on Jan. 1, 2014.

What else is being done to make sure Long Island is ready for the next big one? Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of our series, when News 12's Andrew Ehinger takes a look at what's being done to guarantee the Island's gas supply won't be in jeopardy.

For remarks from Cuomo about the overhaul of LIPA, click on the video on the left or go to News 12 Extra on Channel 612.

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