In the wake of NYS Senate Energy Committee hearings on LIPA, the authority has decided after much time to finally review National Grid’s storm charges for 2010 amounting to $223 million. This comes after these charges were questioned by the Suffolk Legislature’s Oversight Committee on March 2, 2011 and in the testimony of its Co- Chairman, Dr. Matthew Cordaro, before the NYS Senate Energy Committee on April 7, 2011 and purportedly already audited by LIPA.
With evidence of questionable decisions and storm expenditures, in addition to revelations about almost $400 million in customer overcharges, the Oversight Committee again renews its call for a comprehensive and independent management audit of LIPA’s operations. Such an audit would be funded by LIPA, and be similar to what the PSC routinely carries out for private utilities. It would also go far beyond the self audit LIPA is requesting of National Grid exclusively for storm expenditures to expose fundamental flaws in LIPA’s financial management, policies and procedures.
The LIPA Oversight Committee also supports efforts in the NYS Legislature to bring the authority under regulatory oversight. Other large public utilities in the nation function successfully under some form of regulatory oversight and there is no reason why LIPA cannot also benefit from such an arrangement while offering more protection to ratepayers. In view of LIPA’s desperate situation, it is vital that the NYS Senate and Assembly bills for regulating the utility be reconciled and fully supported by the Governor as soon as possible.