After Much Hurricane Sandy Criticism, Chairman of the Long Island Power Authority Resigns

4798The chairman of the Long Island Power Authority resigned on Friday, continuing an exodus from the troubled agency, which has received harsh criticism from customers and elected officials for its response to Hurricane Sandy.
In a letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, dated Friday, the chairman, Howard E. Steinberg, wrote, "Regrettably, my full-time and ongoing professional responsibilities in the private sector preclude me from being able to continue to devote the time required to address the many challenges still facing LIPA."

His resignation, effective immediately, follows that of Michael D. Hervey, the authority's chief operating officer; Bruce Germano, the authority's vice president for customer service; and X. Cristofer Damianos, a trustee.

The departures signal that Mr. Cuomo is moving quickly to overhaul the structure of the authority, whose board is filled with political appointees but had several seats unfilled when the storm hit. The storm knocked out power to about 90 percent of the authority's 1.1 million customers, many of whom remained in the dark for two weeks or more.

At a meeting of the trustees led by Mr. Steinberg four days before Hurricane Sandy arrived, the discussion of the looming storm lasted just 39 seconds.

In an interview after the storm passed, Mr. Steinberg said so little time was devoted to the subject because the board was confident that an effective response plan had been drawn up.

"At that point, a few days before, there is nothing the board can do one way or another," he said.

Mr. Cuomo was especially critical of how the authority performed in the wake of the storm. "I don't believe you can fix it," the governor said of the authority. "I believe it has to be overhauled and you need a new system."

He appointed a Moreland Commission to investigate how the authority and New York City's main utility, Consolidated Edison, prepared for the storm and responded to the damage it caused. That commission has already issued subpoenas to the authority and Con Edison.

The state's attorney general is also investigating the utilities and how they prepared for Hurricane Sandy.

A spokesman for the governor declined to comment.

Source: The New York Times | PATRICK McGEEHAN
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