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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The pressure and criticism following Superstorm Sandy apparently did a number on the Long Island Power Authority’s chief operating officer.
Michael Hervey tendered his resignation on Tuesday evening in the wake of a storm that knocked out service to 90 percent of his company’s customers. His departure will take effect at the end of the year, the utility announced in a statement.
“Mike has provided 12 years of valuable service to LIPA,” a statement from LIPA read. “Mike has played a leadership role in connection with the planned structural changes at LIPA going forward which will result in better service and accountability to LIPA’s customers in the years ahead.”
Hervey spoke to WCBS 880 on Monday and was asked directly to respond to growing calls for his resignation.
“We’re focused on restoration and 100 percent of our energy is going into that. We will prove out ourself by being able to get all of the power back on. That will come in very quick order here and then we’ll have the review process afterwards and we’ll see where all that goes,” Hervey said.
LIPA said Tuesday it had restored power to 99 percent of its impacted customers, but thousands in flood zones were still in the dark, CBS 2′s Dick Brennan reported. When asked Monday if the buck stops with him, Hervey again avoided giving direct answers.
“Well, I think what you look at is, yes, LIPA owns the electric system, National Grid does operate and maintain the system for us. We will definitely be looking at the performance there and we’ll be looking at our own performance and we’ll do an honest assessment, come back and say here’s what needs to be improved,” Hervey said.
Criticism had been mounting from Long Island residents and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said the utility “failed and they should be held accountable for their failure.”
A class action lawsuit was also filed on Tuesday, alleging breach of contract, gross negligence and fraud.
LIPA was also criticized for not communicating with its customers. On Friday, it held a press conference but Hervey and other officials from the utility were no-shows, instead letting management of National Grid do the talking. In the meantime, customers began holding protests, in hopes of getting faster action.
“I don’t know how he wasn’t fired,” Oceanside resident Laura Brennan said.
Many on Long Island had just one message for Hervey: Good riddance.
“I’m ecstatic. I’m hoping they get someone in who can do the job the appropriate way, ’cause this is ridiculous,” Brennan said.
Some customers said the resignation is just one small move by LIPA.
“I think more needs to be done and the governor and politicians can do it,” Oceanside resident Brad Perry said.
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