The chorus of criticism facing the Long Island Power Authority grew louder Thursday after a nor’easter reversed progress in restoring power to nearly two-week Superstorm Sandy blackouts.
New York State, city and LI lawmakers joined residents in racheting up the rhetorical assaualt on LIPA, which has a growing army of more than 14,000 utility workers from across the nation helping fix the lights and heat for residents in storm-damaged homes struggling to keep warm as tempratures drop at night.
“The management has failed the consumers. It’s that simple,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his latest in a series of attacks on the utility. “They were supposed to be prepared. This is what they get paid to do.”
More than 1 million of the 1.1 million homes and businesses LIPA serves lost power after Sandy struck 12 days ago. LIPA aimed to restore power to 90 percent of its customers by Wednesday, when a nor’easter dubbed Athena blanketed the Island in snow and sparked 123,000 outages.
LIPA reported more than 236,000 customers in the dark as of midnight Friday–now including Fire Island, Long Beach and the Rockaways, which it excluded from prior figures. Many structures in those hardest-hit areas are incapable of receiving electricity due to storm damage, LIPA has said.
“We will need to focus efforts on any new outages to critical facilities, but when possible, we will restore power to customers who have been without power for the longest time,” LIPA said in a statement on its website.
The utility and local lawmakers on both sides of the county line have been dispatching electrical inspectors to blacked-out areas hit by the floods to ensure it is safe to flip the switch without igniting a fire. The inspections are free, but homeowners can also hire their own inspectors instead of waiting, according to LIPA.
Frustration has long since boiled over. Oceanside residents are planning a rally Friday and a web designer from Huntington formed a petition calling on the state to cancel its contract with LIPA.
“With temperatures dropping and gasoline lines growing, harm that comes to people and their homes now falls on LIPA’s shoulders,” said Jon Soldo, the petitioner, who estimated 1 million residents are blacked out in the quarter of a million darkened structures. “For the highest power rates in the country, this is simply unacceptable.”
For more outage information, visit the LIPA website or call 1-800-490-0075 or 631-755-6900.