Mike Groll / AP
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at the Capitol on May 13, in Albany, N.Y. Cuomo wants to freeze Long Islanders’ energy rates for three years as part of a proposal to end operating control of the Long Island Power Authority. Most New York lawmakers remain noncommittal, but Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos said Cuomo’s proposal was a good first step.

Long Island Power Authority: Will 3-year rate freeze help?

Debates over the Long Island Power Authority continue after Governor Cuomo's bold suggestion to freeze LIPA rates for three years.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo received tentative support from legislative leaders Monday for his plan to finally sideline the Long Island Power Authority, which has been criticized for high rates and questionable response in disasters for years.

The Cuomo proposal would replace LIPA's role in daily operations by Public Service Electric & Gas Co. of New Jersey. The proposal would freeze Long Islanders' rates for three years.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would only say Cuomo's proposal was a "thoughtful plan" to "a complex challenge" and "certainly an important step in the right direction."

Assembly Republican leader Dean Skelos of Long Island was just as noncommittal of the proposal, although the Cuomo administration worked with key legislators on its provisions for weeks. Skelos called it "still a work in progress."

Long Island legislative representatives, the county executives of Nassau and Suffolk counties, and business leaders gave stronger support for Cuomo's proposal.

But some customers who are already paying some of the nation's highest utility bills are still concerned.

"Let's take the proposal one step further with a long-term solution that will give Long Islanders a stronger voice in the utility regulatory process," said Beth Finkel of AARP in New York. "A consumer advocate office with teeth to stand up to utility companies like PSEG and LIPA is the missing piece to Gov. Cuomo's plan for oversight of utilities."

Cuomo and legislative leaders said they will try to turn the proposal into a bill that could be voted on by the end of the session on June 20.

Cuomo said that even if the transition from LIPA, and its currently contracted operator, National Grid, isn't done in time for the summer and fall hurricane season, Long Islanders will still be better served. Cuomo said he will end what he called the current, confusing relationship by empowering National Grid to act quickly and decisively in the event of major power outages. Cuomo credited National Grid for quickly responding to a major snow storm shortly after he took office in 2011.

LIPA said it will cooperate.

"We will continue to work with government leaders and all other stakeholders to make sure highly reliable service continues to be provided to customers at the best possible value," said LIPA spokesman Mark Gross.

Cuomo said he envisions a privatizing of utility operations through PSE&G while reducing the number of LIPA's political patronage jobs and LIPA's role to handling the authority's $6.7 billion in debt. The network, however, would still be owned by the state authority to make sure it can still receive federal disaster aid to secure lower borrowing rates, Cuomo said. Cuomo said the delays in restoring power during Superstorm Sandy prompted his proposal after years of complaints by Long Islanders.

"It was an incompetent response," Cuomo said. "There is no alterative because the status quo is dangerous for the people of Long Island."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Long Island Power Authority: Will 3-year rate freeze help?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today