LIPA Boss Quits Over Disastrous Response to Hurricane Sandy

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By Charles Poladian | November 14, 2012 2:02 PM EST

Mike Hervey, COO and interim CEO of the Long Island Power Authority, quit Tuesday evening, and  New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has formed a committee to investigate LIPA's handling of mass outages caused by Hurricane Sandy.

LIPA's response following Hurricane Sandy has been roundly condemned, with hundreds of thousands of Long Island residents without power and heat more than a week after the massive storm. There were few answers on when power would be restored, and customers became frustrated at the lack of response by LIPA. Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, there are still 45,000 people without power on Long Island, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

In response to the mounting criticism, Hervey, LIPA's chief operating office and interim chief executive, has resigned effective at the end of the year. He may have to answer for LIPA's handling of Hurricane Sandy as Cuomo has established a 10-person committee that will investigate LIPA's preparation for and handling of the most recent storm as well as previous storms that have left Long Island residents without power.

According to New York Daily News, the committee will have subpoena powers, which means  Hervey and others could be made to testify and LIPA would have to turn over any evidence at the committee's request. In a statement, Cuomo discussed the establishment of the committee “under the Moreland Act that will investigate the response, preparation, and management of New York’s power utility companies with major storms hitting the state over the past two years, including Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee."

The committee's role is not to punish LIPA, he said, but to learn from the mistakes of LIPA as well as National Grid, Con Ed and other utilities in order to be better prepared the next time.

“Con Edison," the New York City utility said in a statement, "looks forward to working with the commission to discuss the company’s preparation and response to Superstorm Sandy.”

Cuomo did not pull any punches, saying, “I believe LIPA has been beyond repair for a long, long time,” reports Bloomberg Businessweek. He took some blame for LIPA's unpreparedness, citing the need to appoint more members to LIPA's 15-member board, which currently has four vacancies.

In more bad news for LIPA on Tuesday, a class-action lawsuit was filed by Nassau attorney Kenneth Mollins against LIPA and National Grid. The suit could involve 1 million customers, reports the New York Daily News.

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