Long Island utility exec resigns, hurricane response blamed

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Long Island Power Authority announced this week that its Chief Operating Officer, Mike Hervey, has resigned from LIPA effective at the end of 2012.

LIPA is a political subdivision of the State of New York.  LIPA was formed in 1985 as a non-profit municipal electric utility to take over the assets of former investor-owned utility Long Island Lighting Company.  Today, LIPA owns the electric grid in most of Long Island.  LIPA does not own electric generation assets on the island but serves 1.1 million customers with electricity generated off-island.  Its electric distribution network was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, with over 1.1 million customers losing power.  As of earlier this week, 10,000 customers just east of New York City were still without power, while 35,000 more farther onto Long Island suffered significant flood damage and will need repairs before electric service can be restored.  County executives and other leaders are calling for federal involvement, and have criticized LIPA for its management of the restoration process.

In a statement released November 13, LIPA Chairman Howard E. Steinberg stated that he had accepted Hervey's resignation, with regret, on behalf of the Board of Trustees.  The announcement noted that Hervey had worked for LIPA for 12 years, including serving as CEP for two years.

Also on Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo formed a commission to investigate utility companies' storm preparedness and management.  Governor Cuomo used his powers under the Moreland Act to form the commission, whose mandate also includes an examination of the regulatory and legal structures for oversight of utility operations.  Citing storms including Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and Hurricane Sandy in the past two years, Governor Cuomo also addressed the adaptation process of adjusting "to the reality of more frequent major weather incidents".

One utility executive has already resigned, and the commission's investigation will soon be under way.  What other changes lie ahead for utility companies in New York and elsewhere as a result of utility responses to hostile weather?

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