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Assemblyman Lavine Authors LIPA Customer Bill Of Rights

Outraged over continued power outages in Nassau County and the lack of transparency from the Long Island Power Authority, Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) is preparing legislation aimed at preventing another abject failure.

“Long Islanders pay some of the highest utility rates in the nation and have every right to demand their money’s worth in service, accountability and transparency,” said Lavine. “A LIPA Customer Bill of Rights, written into state law, will help to protect us from another devastating failure.”

The legislation has seven provisions addressing the legitimate frustration Long Islanders have had over LIPA’s inadequate operational and communication process. It will require the establishment of an emergency management plan and will ensure efficient reporting and maintenance of wires and poles.

LIPA will be required to have sufficient customer service representatives available by phone and email to address customer complaints and concerns and will have to provide customers with specific restoration information. In the event of a widespread outage, LIPA will be required to formulate a regional timetable for power restoration based on town, village or school district. These regional timetables must be posted on LIPA’s website. LIPA will be required to communicate the number of crews in each region. The number of active and dispatched crews must be also posted on LIPA’s website.

The fourth provision will require LIPA to provide power to gas stations and other refueling stations in order to prevent chaos at the pump and hours-long waits for gasoline.

LIPA will be required to establish an emergency management plan that provides for arrangements for bringing in staff, equipment and supplies in advance and the establishment of communication channels for customers.

The authority will also be required to investigate each customer complaint regarding tree interference with electrical wires and broken or rotting poles. The complaints must be given a service number and incorporated into a tracking system maintained by the authority. The authority will also be required to undertake a yearly inspection of the pole.

“The lack of communication from an entity serving as a public utility to citizens who are alone in the cold and the dark is unacceptable and we must ensure that it never happens again,” said Lavine.