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Sep 14, 2010 3:06 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

State to examine LIPA bill for Earl response

Sep 14, 2010 3:06 PM

The massive response by the Long Island Power Authority to Hurricane Earl, and the whopping price tag it carried, has raised eyebrows in the Suffolk County Legislature and at New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office in Albany.

The state comptroller has ordered an investigation into the approximately $30 million cost of bringing in nearly 2,000 out-of-state utility crews and tree trimmers in the days leading up to possible impact of the storm, which ended up passing hundreds of miles to the east, bringing nothing more than intermittent rain showers to the East End. The investigation is intended to determine whether a more detailed audit of the expenses is warranted.

A spokesman for LIPA said the company welcomed the investigation and would cooperate fully. Officials from LIPA are also expected to meet with the Suffolk County Legislature’s energy committee, led by Legislator Wayne Horsley, to discuss the response.

“We welcome the analysis that the Office of the Comptroller is seeking to conduct and have agreed to meet with Legislator Horsley’s committee in early October,” LIPA chief operating officer Michael Hervey said in a statement released by the power authority. “The preparation LIPA engaged in, based on the forecasts provided for Hurricane Earl, were reasonable and appropriate and designed to limit the number of days of outages that customers would experience.”

The power authority and National Grid, Long Island’s sole electrical supplier, brought in some 1,600 repair crews and 300 tree trimming crews from states as far away as Michigan and Missouri. Hundreds of trucks and stockpiles of supplies, like new utility poles and power cables, were staged at Brookhaven and East Hampton airports in anticipation of the storm walloping eastern Long Island with strong winds and torrential downpours.

Afterward, LIPA officials said that they had no choice but to call in the extra help because the crews had to be hired early in the week when forecasts still showed an impact by Earl on Long Island being a strong possibility. Critics have said that the crews could have been reserved but not called in until a direct impact was more certain.

Hurricane Earl was still packing hurricane strength winds as it approached Long Island and forecasters had predicted that the East End would be grazed by the storm and experience winds up to 60 miles per hour, accompanied by tropical rains. But the storm took a hard turn to the east on the morning of September 3 and passed well to the east.

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Regarding the "E-Day Invasion" across the Canal, hopefully the Comptroller's inquiry will include these issues:

-- What hurricane "mutual aid" agreements did LIPA and National Grid ("LIPA/NG") have in place before Earl was a threat?

-- Did these existing contracts call for a proportioned response depending on the ACTUAL development of the storm? If not, why not?

-- What new contracts did LIPA/NG sign as Earl approached? Did these new contracts call for a staged and proportional ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 15, 10 12:12 PM
Screw the critics!!!!
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Sep 15, 10 12:40 PM
LIPA did a very responsible job and thank God we didn't need them. Money well spent just in case.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Sep 15, 10 1:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By dlb (21), sag harbor on Sep 16, 10 9:26 PM
The Suffolk County Legislature and New York State Comptroller looked the other way when LILCO screwed the public. Go figure.
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Sep 15, 10 3:15 PM
It was i great idea, but why are we forced to pay it?
By johnnyhampton (82), Southampton on Sep 15, 10 7:08 PM
It was i great idea, but why are we forced to pay it?
By johnnyhampton (82), Southampton on Sep 15, 10 7:12 PM
Also to be asked, (1) Are these actual costs? (2) Is the labor being billed at straight time, union wages, fringe benefits? (3) Is the lodging at standard rates or did LIPA and NatGrid negotiate a discounted rate given the number of rooms that were committed (4) What is the mileage rate for the vehicles and costs involved? As to mutual aid agreements, what are the terms and has LIPA & Nat GRid ever collected under them?
By sansouci (9), Southampton on Sep 15, 10 10:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
Good suggestions.

Is LIPA/NG a governmental agency, within the scope of the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and/or within the scope of the NYS Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)?

If so, one would hope that the Press will file requests for all relevant documents ASAP.

If LIPA/NG are not technically within the purview of these "Freedom" laws, then perhaps it is time to shift things toward more public disclosure. At a minimum, it would be helpful to have the companies' ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Sep 17, 10 12:33 PM
Wow ! I think Sansouci and PBR should be on the panel looking into this mess ! They both seem to be more in tune with the interests of the public than any of our legislators or LIPA officials ! Tea Party Rules !! Take Back America from the politians and the bureaucrats !
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Sep 16, 10 10:57 AM
1 member liked this comment
just another labor day party, what is the big deal? This is nothing compared to the lobbyist party in DC to celebrate the new financial reform package. Our country is a joke.
By deKooning (106), southampton on Sep 16, 10 12:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
LIPA should have contingencies in its budget for storms. They come everyyear and its part of Long Island life. This is bs.
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Sep 16, 10 2:13 PM
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LIPA SCHMIPA...
By OTISFORDSUCKS (34), Quogue on Sep 16, 10 5:22 PM
BOY, isn't having a Government monopoly run things GREAT, and cheap too! Just WAIT until the Gvt runs health care and we get to pay for all that "free" coverage!
By Lost Tribe (66), East Hampton on Sep 16, 10 9:08 PM
The LILCO buyout was orchestrated by republican Energy Czar" under President Ford, and one-time Chairman of Smith Barney and approved by republican Governor Pataki.

Seems you'd rather pay 50% more for health insurance to keep all those insurance execs in Lear jets. They are the real death panels, deciding who lives and dies by what they are willing to pay for (or not).
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Sep 18, 10 5:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
they didn't see Katrina but they seen Earl ???? you gotta kidding me
who cares about black people and if they are poor and if we could get less why saying it then ....what a good natural cleaning , right but here in the hamptons
hoooo soooo much rich people big money ....they all here in vacay so yeah it justify that whole stupid preparation & money spend
so what if they don't have electricity for a day ...he s not going to kill anyone right , they should learn about restrictions ...more
By dlb (21), sag harbor on Sep 16, 10 9:42 PM
I would just like to know if LIPA will be responding the same when we are threatened by a blizzard? You know when it is just the local people with out heat as opposed to the summer crowd without A/C.
By east end mom (4), East Hampton on Sep 17, 10 11:38 AM
They should also be checking out why we pay the highest electric bills in the country. While the VP and other executives are getting multi million dollar bonuses. Its all just so obscenely wrong.
By rich4411 (9), Hampton Bays on Sep 17, 10 7:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
Second highest, Hawaii is the highest.

LIPA bailed out LILCO bond and shareholders by buying a $2 billion company for $7 billion and assuming another $4.5 billion in LILCO debt. Guess who's paying for that (and other related criminal activities, including borrowing money to give ratepayers a "rebate"), and will be for the next couple of decades?
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Sep 18, 10 5:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
I wonder how much it would have cost if they did any work while they were here.....
By DJ9222 (85), southampton on Sep 17, 10 7:49 PM
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