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New York Utility Official To Quit Following Superstorm Sandy Response

A plea to the Long Island Power Authority for electricity to be restored is posted on a barrier in Mastic Beach, N.Y. on Oct. 31, 2012. The south shore Long Island community was among the hardest hit by the storm that pounded the Northeast.

hide captionA plea to the Long Island Power Authority for electricity to be restored is posted on a barrier in Mastic Beach, N.Y. on Oct. 31, 2012. The south shore Long Island community was among the hardest hit by the storm that pounded the Northeast.

Frank Eltman/AP

The frustration with the response by New York power companies to Superstorm Sandy claimed a senior official yesterday. Michael Hervey, the acting chief officer of Long Island Power Authority, known as LIPA, says he'll resign at the end of this year.

Hervey tells the Wall Street Journal that he'd actually planned to leave before the storm, but Sandy's ferocity delayed him. "I was in the interim position as acting CEO and COO for the past two years plus, and it seemed like I didn't have further opportunities here." He says LIPA trustees and lawyers urged him to finish out the year.

Hervey's departure won't be enough for New York state governor Andrew Cuomo, who's creating a new commission to figure out how the state's utilities failed customers during the devastating superstorm and the nor'easter that followed a week later. "I believe something like this is going to happen again....I think we need to be better prepared," Cuomo warned, as Reuters reports.

The commission is supposed to look at what utilities LIPA and ConEdison and government utility regulators did, not just during Sandy, but other tropical storms like Irene and Lee, says New York Magazine. But part of the problem may be wider than LIPA. The New York Times reports there are five open seats on the LIPA board of trustees, and Gov. Cuomo has yet to fill three of them.

There's also an unflattering view of how the LIPA directors responded to Sandy's approach in the Times' report. LIPA's chairman, Howard Steinberg said that four days before Sandy hit, board members discussed the storm for approximately 39 seconds, because they believed the utility's storm response plan was adequate. Steinberg says the trustees aren't utility experts - they're a citizen oversight board.

Meanwhile, according to LIPA's latest figures, about 8,000 people remain without power on Long Island, the majority in Nassau County. Sandy struck the U.S. East Coast two weeks ago yesterday.

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