Source: Schneiderman subpoenas LIPA, Con Ed

National Grid workers assess roads that remain completely

National Grid workers assess roads that remain completely blocked in Lattingtown so LIPA will be able to access power lines in the area. (Nov. 2, 2012) (Credit: Danielle Finkelstein)

ALBANY -- State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued subpoenas Wednesday to the Long Island Power Authority and Consolidated Edison for information about preparation, response and recovery efforts during superstorm Sandy, a source confirmed.

The investigation centers on the question whether LIPA and Con Ed lived up to legal obligations to provide a safe supply of power in a reliable manner and provide adequate service through severe storms.

No employees were named.

It's the second wide-ranging investigation of utilities begun in as many days, following the Oct. 29 storm that knocked out power to 90 percent of Long Island, flooded subways and tunnels and killed more than 100 people on the East Coast.

On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo empaneled a special commission to probe storm responses by utilities and several state energy agencies.

Unlike Cuomo's commission, Schneiderman can prosecute or penalize.

Schneiderman's office declined to comment Wednesday. But a source familiar with the document said the subpoenas are wide-ranging, touching on issues that include tree-trimming maintenance and communications with the public.

Schneiderman could determine whether LIPA followed public authorities law compelling it to assure "the provision of an adequate supply of electricity in a reliable" manner. He could also weigh whether LIPA created a public nuisance.

Con Ed could be subject to a portion of state public service law that says utilities must provide adequate service through severe storms, the source said.

"We look forward to reviewing the company's storm preparations and are cooperating with the requests of the attorney general and all interested parties," Con Ed spokesman Chris Olert said.

LIPA didn't immediately return requests for comment.

The storm caused an estimated $33 billion in damage. Schneiderman's action also came a day after LIPA disclosed that chief operating officer Michael Hervey has resigned, effective Dec. 31.

Hervey, who had been LIPA's acting chief executive for about two years, said he had been considering leaving since August, when it became clear he wouldn't be offered the permanent job. He said the entity's recovery efforts were "Herculean" in the wake of such a large storm, but understood "there's lots of anger" at power being out for so long in some locales.

Newsday reported last week that LIPA's response to Sandy came after warnings as far back as 2006 that the utility was unprepared to handle a major storm, failed to upgrade antiquated technology, neglected vital maintenance and regularly underbudgeted for storm response.

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