LIPA To Undergo Overhaul
Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder announced that the Assembly has passed a bipartisan measure that will lead to an overhaul of Rockaway and Long Island utility operations, ensuring that utility companies are reliable and held accountable.
The legislation, which has the support of the Governor and Senate, would privatize the day-to-day operations and long-term planning of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), stabilize electric delivery rates, improve customer service, refinance LIPA’s higher interest rate debt and strengthen oversight.
“LIPA's response during Sandy was a nightmare,” Goldfeder said in a media release. “We need to make sure LIPA is held accountable to their customers and provides the quality service our communities deserve. This legislation will also overhaul utility operations to bring real oversight, ease the burden on ratepayers and improve emergency and storm response.”
Under the legislation, a new Office of the Department of Public Service will be created to review and make recommendations on operations, service and performance of LIPA and its service provider, Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG). The department will annually review the service provider’s emergency response plan and make recommendations to improve any problems. The department will also review the service provider’s performance when responding to widespread outages after a major storm and make recommendations to improve response.
“This new office will provide much-needed, and dedicated, oversight of Long Island and Rockaway utility operations,” Goldfeder said. “It will help make sure ratepayers aren’t plagued with slow response times, inconsistent service and skyrocketing rates any longer.”
The department will also oversee LIPA by annually reviewing all planned capital expenditures for the following year, performing a regular management and operations audit, investigating, mediating and making recommendations regarding consumer complaints, monitoring renewable energy programs and other energy efficiency measures, assessing plans to implement energy efficiency measures, distributed generation or advance grid technology programs; and reviewing all books, records, premises and facilities and interviewing all appropriate personnel.
This legislation will also require LIPA to present to the department a three-year budget and rate proposal by February 1st, 2015, for years 2016 through 2018, to help stabilize rate costs and improve the grid. The department will then make recommendations for rates with the guiding principal that rates be set at the lowest level consistent with sound fiscal operating practices and ensure that revenues are sufficient to carry out safe and adequate service. Also, any rate of 2.5 percent or more must be reviewed by the department.
“Rockaway utility rates are some of the highest in the nation,” Goldfeder said in a media release. “By taking steps to stabilize these costs, we can lessen the burden on ratepayers and relieve the frustration they feel paying ridiculous monthly bills for service that doesn’t meet their needs.”