Letter: LIPA responds to Suffolk Times editorial

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Construction and heavy drilling machinery has become the norm at Island View Lane in Greenport.

To the editor:

The Sept. 5 editorial entitled “LIPA project can’t be dead in the water” makes three points that warrant clarification from LIPA.

First, the statement made that “… Even after the region’s other utilities had completed their restoration efforts, much of Long island remained in the dark … is not true. The Long Island Power Authority restored 90 percent of its customers after superstorm Sandy within an eight-day period, consistent with neighboring utilities whose systems and customers sustained similar damage. Given the impact of the nor’easter that hit the area nine days after Sandy, which caused another 123,000 outages, LIPA was able to achieve the restoration of 95 percent of all customers within a 13-day period and 99 percent in 15 days. As was published in the Wall Street Journal on Nov. 16, 2012, in the days following Sandy, a study done by the Associated Press indicated that “ … the response to Sandy by utility companies, especially hardest-hit New York and New Jersey, was typical — or even a little faster than elsewhere after other huge storms.”

Second, the editorial references a $500 rate hike that requires some clarification. The rate hike referenced is largely due to increases in power supply costs with the remaining amount due to LIPA’s cost of energy efficiency and renewable programs and an increase in New York State assessments and taxes. It is important to note that, similar to all other utilities, the cost of energy now varies monthly on the electric bill and increases and decreases on a monthly basis based on the actual costs to produce energy, independent of LIPA. Also, the Power Supply Charge in 2013 is $14 a year lower than it was in 2007 and $115 a year lower than it was in 2009.

Third, the editorial references a concern regarding the contractor National Grid has engaged to perform the horizontal direct drilling scope of work between Southold and Shelter Island for LIPA. LIPA contracts work of this nature on a periodic basis, the most recent being a horizontal direct drilling operation under Mott’s Basin in Queens in 2012. LIPA shares the concern of the residents affected by the recent setback and is working with National Grid and its contractor to remedy the solution in a timely fashion. As this type of work is a very complex procedure, LIPA, as it does routinely with other projects similar to the Shelter Island-to-Southold project, has engaged a consulting firm that specializes in horizontal directional drilling work to ensure LIPA’s interest and those of its ratepayers are protected.

Nicholas Lizanich, Uniondale

Mr. Lizanich is vice president, Transmission and Distribution Operations, LIPA