LIPA: Cuomo threatens as 635,000 customers remain without power

A plea to the Long Island Power Authority A plea to the Long Island Power Authority for electricity to be restored is posted on a barrier in Mastic Beach. (Oct. 31, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

advertisement | advertise on newsday

With its customers losing patience and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo directly threatening its management, the Long Island Power Authority began deploying an army of line workers Thursday to repair damage that it now expects will take a full two weeks or more to complete.

Cuomo issued a written ultimatum Thursday to officials of LIPA, a state authority, and those of other top utilities in the state, including Con Edison, saying they had time to prepare for the storm, and that the state certifications of the private companies, and even their jobs, were on the line.

"I will make every change necessary to ensure it [LIPA] lives up to its public responsibility. It goes without saying that such failures would warrant the removal of the management responsible for such colossal misjudgments," the governor said.

To the private companies like Con Edison, Cuomo wrote, "New Yorkers should not suffer because electric utilities did not reasonably prepare for this eventuality. In the context of the ongoing emergency, such a failure constitutes a breach of the public trust."

Cuomo's threat to revoke the certificates of private utility companies seemed to skirt the issue of such an action for LIPA, over which the state Public Service Commission has no jurisdiction. "LIPA is addressed separately in the letter," PSC spokesman James Denn said.

LIPA officials said late last night they expect to have power to most customers restored by Nov. 10 or 11, though it "could take an additional week or more, excluding the areas of mass devastation" to restore the limited number of remaining customers.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

That's more than the seven to 10 days LIPA initially projected for outages, the worst in LIPA history. Hurricane Gloria in 1985 took 11 days to restore, while Tropical Storm Irene took a week to restore 99 percent of outages.

LIPA reported at 9:49 p.m. Thursday that 635,835 customers remained without power, down more than 300,000 from the peak of 945,000 customers without service after the storm. LIPA serves more than 1.1 million customers, including more than 30,000 in the Rockaways communities in Queens.