Long Island Business News
Superstorm hits before new LIPA software ready
by Claude Solnik
Published: November 5th, 2012
In the past year, the Long Island Power Authority has spent more than $10 million on software and systems to improve its power outage tracking and reporting, but new software wasn’t ready by the time Hurricane Sandy hit.
LIPA after Tropical Storm Irene began implementing new $10-million software and systems to give it a state-of-the-art method of managing and providing information regarding outages.
But the authority said it has been using a modified version of the basic outage management system in place for years, as it seeks to improve the flow of information and expands its use of technology through social media.
“We’re still running on the existing one that we have,” LIPA Vice President of Operations Nick Lizanich said. “ We are replacing the system, but the system we are using now is providing us with the right information.”
He said LIPA decided to develop a new outage management system after problems surfaced in Tropical Storm Irene. But the authority said a new system wasn’t ready for Sandy.
“Last year after Irene, there were some deficiencies with communications. We made one last upgrade to that system. That’s in place now. And it’s working just fine,” Lizanich said. “That system is working effectively. What we’re looking forward to is replacing it and bringing in a new state-of-the-art system that we’ll have in place for next summer.
Lizanich said the new system will make it easier to identify customers impacted by problems, improving information.
He said the new system would make it easier to provide information to customers about outages, providing additional details regarding impact.
“The computer will be able to help us gather together and identify quicker which customers are affected by a given outage,” Lizanich said.
The new system also will let LIPA and customers know who’s affected by an outage in various locations, improving customer counts LIPA provides regarding various communities.
He said LIPA isn’t withholding information from customers, but often simply isn’t able to provide greater clarity about their circumstances.
“The transparency thing with the authority is something we stay pretty good on,” Lizanich said. “It’s not that we know and aren’t telling anybody. It’s how much we know.”
Others said that communication is based on information that’s available, and can be provided to customers.
“They’ve been placing this emphasis on communication and social networks,” said Matthew Cordaro, co-chairman of the Suffolk County Legislature’s LIPA Oversight Committee. “But they have no information to give you. Communication is worthless, unless you have information.”