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Tuesday, March 31, 2015
LIPA's future remains uncertain
(Page 4 of 4)
David Weingrad/Herald
LIPA faced a barrage of criticism for its response to Hurricane Sandy.
Moving forward

Responding to the commission’s report, A LIPA spokesperson wrote in an email, “LIPA will continue to work with the State and the Moreland Commission to do what’s in the best interest of our customers, while we continue to transition to a new business model and service provider beginning January of 2014.”

A spokesperson for National Grid wrote in an email, “We continue to cooperate with the state and the Moreland Commission as part of the ongoing review.”

An email sent to Cuomo’s press office regarding the future of LIPA was not answered, but in February, Cuomo did take preliminary action on the utility’s management. A press release on the governor’s website announced Cuomo’s passage of the LIPA Oversight Bill on Feb. 1, requiring LIPA to undergo periodic audits and internal procedures, and requiring its Board of Directors to publicly present the findings and recommendations of the audits. “This new law is an important step toward improving efficiency and transparency at LIPA to ensure ratepayers are protected,” Cuomo said in the release.

Karen Johnson, a spokeswoman for PSEG, told the Herald that the company has already created PSEG Long Island, a subsidiary dedicated to managing its Long Island responsibilities. She added that its management team will live on Long Island and be “visible and available.”

“We’ve been hard at work in the transition, and we believe we understand the challenges,” Johnson said. “We’ve identified specific areas for improvement and are developing the plans and processes to address them. In consultation with LIPA and subject to its approval, we’ll implement improvements in customer service and customer satisfaction, a proven storm restoration process, and best industry practices in transmission and distribution electric system maintenance and operations.”

When PSEG takes over for National Grid next year, however, McKevitt said, he does not believe there will have been any further developments regarding LIPA. “There is no way realistically … that we could change LIPA, through either municipalization or a privatization, before January 1,” he said.

“Until we figure out the debt issue,” McKevitt continued, “we’re going nowhere.”

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pschlussler

Assemblyman McKevitt recognized that many members of the Assembly feel that granting LIPA Full Municipalization would be the best option. But he disagrees, saying, “I don’t have the faith and the confidence that LIPA can do that job. Their past history has showed that they have failed and they have failed miserably.

Assemblyman McKevitt has a flawed interpretation of what re-structuring LIPA into a full Municipalization utility really means to the ratepayer.

The basic facts are that there are over 2000 such utilities in the country who of which have demonstrated, over many years, better customer satisfaction and lower rates. This is accomplished by the Utility being run by engaged professional members of the community and not political appointees from Albany such is the existing LIPA structure. Additionally, Full Municipalization offers complete transparency, accountability and ownership to the people it serves…

Unfortunately for Assemblyman McKevitt fails to recognize that Full Municipalization is not a government waste land but more a utility owned and operated by the people it serves.

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