Jul 30, 2014

Pols: Feds Should Take Over LIPA

Rep. Steve Israel calls for former FEMA director to take over LIPA.

Pols: Feds Should Take Over LIPA
In a show of political force and in a sign of growing exasperation, congressmen, state and town leaders joined with Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano Friday in calling for federal government intervention at the Long Island Power Authority. 

Hurricane Sandy ripped through the region Oct. 29, leaving millions of Long Islanders in the dark. Wednesday’s nor’easter did further damage to the already-fragile power grid.  But 11 days into the crisis, Mangano said LIPA’s actions have not been enough.

“To put it into terms that Washington can readily understand, LIPA’s power is at Defcon Two,” Mangano said. “The power condition is beyond urgent. The Federal government must shake up and wake up LIPA to get the power turned on.” 

Rep. Steve Israel, D-Huntington, said James Lee Witt, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, should be brought in immediately to oversee the utility.

“James Lee Witt came in and fixed the federal response to both Katrina and Rita when no one else could,” Israel said.

“He’s been to my district at an Emergency Preparedness forum that I organized. He’s considered no nonsense and a no-red-tape problem solver. He is someone who actually knows how to get the lights on and the fuel flowing. This morning, I asked him if he could come to New York, go into LIPA, and get results. And I’ve asked the governor to bring him in immediately.”

More than 131,000 LIers were still without power Friday afternoon, including 82,056 in Nassau.

“Almost two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, LIPA customers are still in the dark with LIPA power lines and communications lines still down,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said.

“A combination of constantly changing policies, poor communications and management void has left hundreds of thousands of customers with little clear information on LIPA's power restoration plan and even less of an idea when they may expect power restored. It's time for LIPA to tell customers the truth, be accountable and restore power, now!”

Mangano cited the Department of Energy's Federal Power Act section 202(c) emergency authority to bring the full force of the federal goverment to bear, including the technical assistance and expertise of the Army Corps of Engineers, along with pumps, generators and debris removal assistance to restore power. 

Mangano was joined by Israel, Murray, Rep. Peter King, R-Seaford, state Sen. Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto.

“LIPA’s performance following Hurricane Sandy has been completely abysmal," King said. "It has been nearly two weeks since the storm; the LIPA-led status quo has clearly failed the residents of Long Island who remain in the dark and in the cold. 

"Congressman Israel and I are calling on President Obama to ensure that Federal agencies do everything possible to dramatically improve the pace of power restoration as well as the flow of information to customers who deserve to have their normal lives restored.”

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