LONG ISLAND COMMUNITY NEWS RELEASES
For Immediate Release: June 10, 2013
Op Ed: Need for Accountability and Oversight Involving LIPA Restructuring
Long Island Press Releases —
Assemblyman Hennessey on LIPA Restructuring: Oversight, Rates, PILOTS:
(Long Island, NY) Govern
or Cuomo has outlined a plan to restructure LIPA. The plan would reduce what many agree to be LIPA’s top-heavy board from 15 members to 5. The state would still maintain government ownership but would bring in a new utility, PSEG, from New Jersey for operational control. And finally the Governor proposes a rate freeze until 2015.
While I agree wholeheartedly with the Governor that LIPA has never worked for Long Island ratepayers, I also believe that it makes no sense to embark on a plan that ratepayers are going to have to pay for and live with, without a complete airing of the plan with the public.
And for now, the plan in my view is missing key oversight as it places a Public Service Commission on Long Island with no teeth. This is an old problem that needs to be solved if ratepayers are truly to be served. It is important to note that NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has also expressed concerns about oversight issues because with the Governor’s plan, the new LIPA would not be subject to state comptroller or attorney general reviews.
Further, the Governor’s plan, which freezes rates for three years, does nothing to protect ratepayers from increases after three years. This kind of rate-increase protection is mandatory if we are to keep rates reasonable. Finally, the plan provides minimal reform with respect to the PILOTS (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) that go to subsidize some of the wealthier neighborhoods on Long Island.
We need real leadership from the Governor to cut through years of insider deals and political favoritism that make up the LIPA packages that are presently in place, and the bill that is on the table doesn’t do any of that.
Governor Cuomo is on the right track. There clearly needs to be an overhaul of LIPA and how delivery of power is managed and carried out on Long Island. Nothing could be plainer after the response to Super Storm Sandy. But the fine details of the Governor’s plan are crucial. Ratepayers have a right to know what kind of oversight the new structure will have and what it will mean in terms of rates moving forward.
I urge my colleagues in the state legislature and Governor Cuomo to ensure that the future provider operates transparently and is accountable and responsive to ratepayers as well as being prepared for the next storm.