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State Report Alleges Questionable Relationships Between LIPA, Outside Contractor

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There is more trouble for the already maligned Long Island Power Authority, as a state report has found questionable business relationships between LIPA and an outside contractor. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.

Strolling in the summer sunshine you might not know it at first glance, but the Rockaways and its residents still struggle to recover from Hurricane Sandy

"People are hurting here and we can use all the help we can," said one Rockaways resident.

Many lived without power for more than a month. At the peak, 90 percent of Long Island Power Authority's million-plus customers on Long Island and the Rockaways were without power.

"It got cold quite quickly and people really needed power," recalled one Rockaways resident. "The absence of crews was immediately noticeable and continued for weeks."

Many residents never received accurate estimates of when it would return.

Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered an investigation of LIPA and all statewide utilities which found "industry-wide deficiencies", including depleted ranks of lineworkers, flaws in the utility emergency response plans, failure to develop localized estimated restoration times, and inadequate plans for the effects of storm surge flooding.

It's no surprise to many of those just getting their lives back together. But what may shock them is that the Moreland Commission now wants prosecutors to investigate LIPA saying its "failings do not just occur during weather emergencies", it "lacks internal controls for reviewing consultant charges", and "Some of these practices may violate State and federal laws."

The commission points to a consultant expensed trip from Washington, DC to Culebra, Puerto Rico, that includes charges for a seaplane flight from San Juan to the remote resort island -- no explanation was provided.

Additionally, there appears to be a revolving door of employees moving between LIPA and its primary consultant, Navigant Consulting, Inc., which may violate state laws.

Navigant issued a statement saying in part it adheres to the highest industry standards of ethics and integrity.

It is reviewing the facts related to each question in detail.

LIPA says it will address the serious concerns identified.

Last week, New York lawmakers approved the governor's plan to award PSE&G operations of LIPA starting next year and reduce LIPA's staff.

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