Cuomo: LIPA not fixable, 'has to end'

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Nov. 20, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Nov. 20, 2012) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday that the Long Island Power Authority "has to end," as he continued his sharp criticism of the authority's performance in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

Flanked by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) at the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence, Cuomo said he expected a full report soon on the performance of LIPA and other utilities from a special panel he has convened.

"We need a different system. LIPA has to end, in my opinion," Cuomo told reporters at an event where Thanksgiving meals were distributed to storm victims. "I want to get the report from the investigations commission, but I can tell you this has gone on for too long and it has to end now."

He later said, "I don't think you can fix LIPA. To coin an expression, I would say 'end it, don't mend it.' It can't be fixed. We've gone too many years with tinkering on the edges. It doesn't work. Come up with a better system. Period."

A LIPA spokesman declined to comment on Cuomo's remarks. A Cuomo aide said later that the statements didn't represent a change in position, and that the governor simply was repeating his denunciation of LIPA's performance.

The governor appoints a majority of the LIPA board and Cuomo has faced criticism for failing to fill vacancies, and for not naming a new chief executive in his nearly two years in office.

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Since the Oct. 29 storm, Cuomo has said repeatedly that LIPA needed to be overhauled. He has called the authority "fatally flawed," saying it has "been beyond repair for a very, very long time."

Sandy cut power to about 90 percent of LIPA's 1.1 million customers -- with tens of thousands not regaining service for two weeks.

Last week, Cuomo appointed a special Moreland Commission to investigate the storm performance of LIPA, Consolidated Edison and other power providers. Regina Calcaterra, chief deputy to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, will serve as executive director.

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Cuomo said he expected the commission to issue a "full report in a matter of weeks" and that he'd then "come up with a real reform plan that changes things." Calcaterra, he added, "knows the situation from Long Island's point of view. She's a lawyer so I think she's going to be very good."

Mangano and Bellone aides said Wednesday they supported Cuomo's call to "end" LIPA.

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said Mangano and the governor "agree on the issue."

Suffolk Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider said Bellone "shares the governor's belief that this storm demonstrated that the structure of LIPA doesn't work, and needs to be fundamentally changed."

With Yancey Roy

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