Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Long Island Power Authority aka LIPA

I have been too angry to write a blog about LIPA, but it has to be done. LIPA is the power company who serves the people of Long Island, N.Y. or rather doesn’t serve them. They charge some of the highest rates in the country to people who pay some of the highest property taxes. Every time there is a storm, the people on Long Island lose power. So when a storm of the magnitude of hurricane Sandy hit their shores, LIPA was in no way prepared to deal with the situation. 

Today I heard that the Chief Operating Officer, Michael Hervey, resigned, effective at the end of this year. What a surprise! And why wait? Amid criticism from practically everyone he decided to take the cowardly way out. I wonder if he is getting a severance package paid for by the very people who are now without power? Many are STILL without power and I wouldn’t be surprised. 

LIPA has never really done a good job when it comes to power outages and they have been warned to beef up their operation. The haven’t and I can only guess it’s because they want to make huge profits at the expense and neglect of their customers. LIPA is virtually a monopoly. I thought there were laws against monopolies? Anyway, the people who live on Long Island are at their mercy. I heard that LIPA would be reimbursed 75% of their additional expenses in restoring power to their customers by the Federal government AND that they intend to raise rates to make up the additional 25%. In other words, for all their incompetence and negligence they intend not to lose one thin dime! And that’s not all, LIPA bills all went out on time to it’s customers. People still without power must pay if they are on the “budget plan,” which spreads out payments over a 12 month period. If they don’t pay their bills they will get disconnect notices…when the power is restored. LIPA intends to credit them with the days they are “out of power” at the end of their 12 month period. By that time they will have raised rates and their customers will end up owing them money. Pretty neat operation they have going for them?

My cousin was one of the lucky people on Long Island. She was out power only 11 days. She had to go out and get a generator, gas cans and gas on a daily basis to run the generator. There was no gas to be had, so she had to run her generator two hours on and two hours off to conserve. She runs a day care in her home, it’s her business. She is the sole provider of her family. She also cares for her husband, who has late stage multiple sclerosis. They are on a LIPA medical priority list for power. He has medical equipment that she could not run as often as necessary. She did her best to take care of him and run her business in those 11 days. On the 11th day her husband couldn’t breathe and had to go to the hospital. She had to assume a lot of additional expenses thanks to LIPA, but she still has to pay her bill? What the hell is wrong with this picture?

A friend of mine told me about her sister, who after delivering a baby by C-Section right before the storm, had to go to a hotel to be safe, with her children and mother, while her husband watched their house get flooded. The hotel lost power and she had to change the baby with the light from her cell phone. When she went back home, her basement was totally destroyed and there was no heat for the new baby. Like my cousin, they also had to get a generator to heat their home and a lot of additional gas, because they had a new born and couldn’t allow the house to get cold. Hours on gas lines, extra expense, worry, loss of possessions, and guess what? Their LIPA bill came right on time…the FEMA check was no where to be found. 

Those are just two first hand stories that I personally know about, there are tons more that are worse that I heard on the news ever since the storm hit. LIPA doesn’t inform it’s customers what is going on, no one answers their phones. I tried calling on behalf of my cousin, who had her hands full. She was really a trooper throughout and is used to dealing with life’s catastrophes, but me not so much. Just hearing how these two families suffered was bothering the hell out of me.

And guess what else? I found a facebook page that LIPA has to inform residents as to what is going on. They have a website too. Believe me when I say, they only post what they want people to know on there, not the truth. Many more were out of power than they reported. And for the life of me I don’t understand how they expect people without power to access this information? Computers need ELECTRICITY to run and recharge. I cannot tell you how disgusted I am with this company. I think they should get two or three new companies to come in and charge LIPA for all the inconvenience and expense that everyone on Long Island has had to endure because of their negligence. It may come to that too. I hear that the residents have gotten a lawyer to begin a class action lawsuit against LIPA. I can’t wait till it gets started. I hope they found someone who is ruthless and relentless. They don’t even deserve to be in business!

So if the CEO is resigning and running scared, he should be. He should be sued in civil court for his part in this chaotic fiasco that left hundreds of thousands of people in the dark literally and figuratively. It’s an outrage what this company has been allowed to do. The money they make for the service they provide is sickening!

Let’s hope justice will be swift and fair. Let’s hope the people of Long Island fight this to the bitter end and not settled out of court! Let’s hope other companies will come in and take over LIPA customers as soon as possible! 

If you have a personal story about LIPA I urge you to post it here in the comments. Maybe this blog will fall into the hands of someone who can actually use it to go after LIPA? Who knows?

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