State Senate panel: LIPA failed in its response to Irene

MINEOLA - A state Senate committee today said the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) failed in its post-Tropical Storm Irene efforts as it questioned LIPA and National Grid officials about their response and how much it may all cost.

State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset), who headed the meeting, blasted LIPA, saying there was a lack of communication throughout the process of power restoration, and that it was unacceptable.

"I think you guys failed miserably," said state Sen. Charles Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick).

About 523,000 Long Islanders were left in the dark after the storm, some of them for more than a week.

Testifying in front of the eight-person panel, LIPA Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey said Irene was the worst storm to hit Long Island in more than 25 years and its response was reasonable and appropriate. The same sentiment was expressed by John Bruckner, of National Grid.

"Irene was the biggest storm to hit since Hurricane Gloria, and in just over a week, we restored power to over 523,000 customers affected," he said.

Hervey, however, later admitted that although LIPA was as prepared and proactive as it could have been, it could have done better.

LIPA officials say the storm cost LIPA about $176 million. The number includes bringing in 7,500 workers, the use of equipment and repairing hundreds of utility poles. The question of if there will be a rate hike to help foot the $176 million bill remains on many Long Islanders' minds and the utility company did not rule the possibility out.

Hervey claims that 75 percent of the price should be reimbursed by the national government. This leaves LIPA with about $44 million in expenses.

LIPA eyes possible rate hikes to cover cost of IreneGovernor wants review of state utility companiesGov. Cuomo to audit LIPA over Irene responseLIPA: Power restored to 99 percent of customers

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