Long Island Power Authority Chairman Howard Steinberg has resigned, effective immediately, leaving the beleaguered utility's board of trustees in danger of not being able to run the business.
According to several published reports, Steinberg sent Gov. Andrew Cuomo a letter Friday afternoon claiming that his full-time responsibilities in the private sector have made it impossible for him to devote the time needed to deal with the utility's challenges.
The move leaves LIPA's board of trustees with eight members, the smallest possible size it can operate as to be able to conduct business.
Steinberg, who was appointed to the unpaid position on LIPA's board in 1999 by Gov. George Pataki, joins chief operating officer Michael Hervey, customer relations vice president Bruce Germano and fellow trustee X. Cristofer Damianos as LIPA leaders who have resigned following Superstorm Sandy. The storm, which knocked out power to more than 1 million LIPA customers when it hit Oct. 29, exposed the utility to harsh scrutiny from the public and elected officials over its response and lack of preparation for the storm.
Much of that ire has been directed at the utility's leadership, which includes LIPA's management and trustees, for communication breakdowns that left customers in the dark about when their electricity would be restored.
The New York Times has also reported that a LIPA trustee meeting held by Steinberg four days before the monster storm pummeled the region was only 39 seconds long.
Cuomo also accused the utility of running out of electric poles in the middle of the recovery.
The governor, who has the power to appoint several trustees to the board, has publicly called the utility broken and has created a Moreland Commission to investigate LIPA and make recommendations on its future.