Thursday, February 22, 2018

Residents protest utility's response

NEW YORK — Even as the lights came for many who lost power in New York and New Jersey during the superstorm and a later nor'easter, hundreds of residents protested Saturday outside a Long Island utility, frustrated by its slow response to outages.

Power restoration has been slower there than in other areas hit by Sandy, sparking criticism of the Long Island Power Authority. Some of the 130,000 blacked out homes and businesses the utility serves may not have power restored until the end of Tuesday, LIPA said. That doesn't include tens of thousands of homes too damaged to juice up.

"There should be criminal charges against the CEO and the executive board of LIPA for failure to do their jobs," said John Mangin of Levittown, N.Y.

He was among about 300 people staging a rally in front of LIPA's office in Hicksville, N.Y. Not all were without power, but some who had power said they were there to protest LIPA's lack of communication.

LIPA chief operating officer Michael Hervey said they were aware customers haven't gotten the information they needed from the utility, partly because of an outdated information technology system they are in the process of updating.

About 6,400 linemen and 3,700 tree trimmers are at work, compared with 200 linemen on a normal day, Hervey said.

In Suffolk County, where 28,000 remain without power, County Executive Steven Bellone said he was cutting ties with LIPA and would deal directly with substation coordinators.

In New York City and neighboring suburban Westchester County, utility Con Edison said it has restored electricity to 98 percent of homes and businesses. About 20,000 of its customers remained powerless, down from a peak of more than 1 million.

In New Jersey, less than 85,000 customers were without power Saturday utilities said. That was down from a peak of 2.7 million after the storm. Most were expected to have power by the end of the weekend.

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