Although most of Long Island has already recovered from the damaging aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, LIPA has suffered many setbacks that may impact the company’s future. Currently, LIPA remains culpable for the delay in power restoration of the majority of Long Island as well as poor readiness and warnings to its customers.
In addition to the setbacks regarding LIPA’s lack of responsibility, the company will soon be under the leadership of a new CEO after current CEO, Michael Hervey, steps down at the end of the month. Though experience in “implementing storm hardening policies,” as stated in his executive biography, had previously earned him high recognition, the intensity and estimated destruction from Sandy was gravely underestimated. This underestimation resulted in leaving many individuals unaware of the potential danger of the storm, which ranged from extensive power outages to damaged, flooded homes in hard-hit areas. Despite the condemnation Hervey is currently receiving from the majority of Long Island, many remain skeptical that a new CEO will bring necessary changes to the company. Junior Alana Kessler commented, “[LIPA is] years behind in technology that other electric companies use, and the whole company and its electric system needs a renovation, in order for something like this not to happen again.” This statement is supported by the recent state report condemning the company’s remissive preparation for storms over the past few years and LIPA’s outdated computer system which hindered worried customers from being able to contact LIPA during the aftermath of the storm.
Customers responded to the slow progress of restoration with mixed reactions. “It would have made things a lot easier if our power was restored at a faster rate, but I understand that there was a lot to be done and LIPA couldn’t restore everyone’s power immediately,” stated junior Carly Berger. Despite the hard work of thousands of LIPA employees and out-of-state workers to quickly help damaged areas, many met the gradual progress and longevity of the power outage with frustration. “I was disappointed that LIPA was unable to work faster to return our power, especially since the weather was getting cold,” said junior Dia Su.
Similar to the majority of LIPA customers, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York was dissatisfied with the recovery improvement. He is determined to hold the company responsible for its delay in returning energy back to homes and for the lack of communication between the company and its customers. It has been acknowledged by LIPA that the lack of communication between the company and its customers regarding updates and information was due to an outdated computer system, which posed a similar issue when Hurricane Irene hit in 2011. In addition to the outdated system, LIPA reported that they did not plan to compile a supply of utility poles in case of further unanticipated damages from the storm; without the utility poles, LIPA faced difficulties reporting outages to the company stations immediately. As a result, Governor Cuomo issued an investigation concerning how utility companies prepared for and reacted to the Sandy. Additionally, LIPA is encountering lawsuits, lead by Attorney Kenneth Mollins of Nassau County, claiming that the company was oblivious and inattentive to the potential dangers and risks of Hurricane Sandy prior to the storm itself. Further claims from customers include “grossly under-budgeted” preparation for the superstorm as well as “rudimentary storm and damage prediction models.” However, LIPA has yet to provide a response to the claims in the lawsuit.
Even though most of Long Island has been able to recover from the damaging aftermath of the storm, many parts of New York State have yet to return to the routine of a normal life due to the slow recovery process. All in all, LIPA’s preparation and recovery process has been unsatisfactory and “[has] failed customers,” as stated by Governor Cuomo. As a result, the company is forced to face class action lawsuits in which LIPA customers are encouraged to be involved in.