LIPA: Post-Sandy outages down to under 8,000

LIPA Electrical contractors work to restore power in LIPA Electrical contractors work to restore power in Patchogue during Superstorm Sandy. (Oct. 29, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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The Long Island Power Authority Wednesday said it has reduced outages to just under 8,000 customers as crews begin work on surveying the system and making permanent many of the temporary fixes done over the past two weeks.

LIPA chief operating officer Michael Hervey, who announced Tuesday night that he will resign at year end, said crews have begun surveying some 13,000 miles of distribution lines to determine work that needs to be done to bring the system back to normal operating mode. Around 400 tree trim and transmission system workers have been sent home, leaving a force of some 13,000, LIPA said.

But even as LIPA wraps up the last of the outages, some say they remain in the dark, literally and figuratively, about their power.

Michael Wohlfeld of Great Neck said after spending 17 days without power, he was told Wednesday morning that LIPA can't restore his power because the authority said it didn't know when they could get him a meter. A tree limb fell on the meter during the storm and broke it, and he was later told he had to get an electrician to certify his system as safe. He did that and waited days for LIPA to come and replace the meter.

"I've called five times a day and get a different story," he said. Wednesday a representative told him to do a "bypass" to restore his power without a meter.

"There was no reason to get such a run-around," he said. "My electrician said I'll have power in an hour."

Hervey has repeatedly said LIPA is not experiencing equipment shortages, but in some cases has had logistical issues getting items to the field.

The storm is on course to be among LIPA's most expensive, after Tropical Storm Irene last year broke all previous records, costing $176 million to repair. Superstorm Sandy, Hervey said, has already led the authority to replace around 3,000 utility poles, more than three times the number from Irene.

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