The acting CEO of Long Island's biggest power company resigned on Tuesday, as nearly 40,000 of his customers still don't have electricity more than two weeks after the destruction left by Hurricane Sandy. Michael Hervey, who has been interim CEO and COO of Long Island Power Authority for more than two years, claims he was already planning to step down months before Sandy arrived, because "it seemed like I didn't have further opportunities here." However, there's no doubt that LIPA's awful response in the aftermath of the storm played a role in abrupt exit.
When Sandy swept over the area on October 29, it knocked power to 90 percent of LIPA's customers. That includes more than 1.1 million households in Suffolk and Nassau Counties, and parts of Queens, including Rockaway Peninsula, where fires burned down more than 100 homes. More than two weeks later, around 8,000 homes and businesses still have no power and around 30,000 more could be turned on but haven't, because the buildings are flooded and the authorities worry about possible fires.
Residents suffering without heat, light, or gas raged against the company for its slow response and lack of information—or misinformation. Customers have complained about crews not showing up to make promised repairs and phones going unanswered at LIPA offices, while their recovery lags far behind other areas hit by the storm. The disastrous response has prompted suggestions from Governor Andrew Cuomo—who has taken his own share of heat for failure to oversee the authority—that local utility companies should be investigated and possibly broken up. At the last meeting of LIPA trustees before Sandy hit, according to The New York Times, the group spent a total of 39 seconds discussing storm preparations.
Hervey has been with LIPA since 2000 and says he was persuaded to say through the end of the year, presumably so another interim replacement can be found.