It might be lights out for LIPA in its current form.
The Moreland Commission, established to examine response from utility companies after Sandy, has offered Governor Andrew Cuomo three options to reshape the power company after it was lambasted for poor response times and mismanagement after the storm.
The first is to let the power company go private under a single operator — effectively letting the state regulate the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), as opposed to regulating itself as it does now.
Other options include streamlining LIPA by allowing the company to manage its day-to-day operations — currently handled by National Grid. The last suggestion is to replace LIPA with the New York Power Authority (NYPA).
The tandem of LIPA and National Grid did not work during the storm, according to the commission’s interim report, and had fallen victim to mismanagement and poor investment in infrastructure and had let customers down.
Cuomo, who has promised to keep utility companies accountable, said whatever plan the commission ultimately suggests, it should be adopted statewide. He reiterated that utility companies were not locked into servicing the area forever and would be responsible for any wrongdoings.
“Nobody said that any of these utility companies had a franchise for life; they don’t,” Cuomo said after meeting the commission. “I mean what business do you have today in this state and this country where you have the business for life, regardless of your performance?”
Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, who represents the bulk of Rockaway, said LIPA was mismanaged after the storm. Relaying information to residents was not the only problem, he said, but communication within the agency was poor.
“It seemed like there was just a general lack of communication not only within the community but within their own agency,” he said.
Goldfeder said he was open to any proposals to changing how utility companies are managed to ensure they are held accountable to customers.
“There’s no question that LIPA failed the residents of Rockaway during the recent storm,” he said. “I’m open to discussing any and all changes to make sure that the utility companies are well managed and reliable to the customers who need it.”
- Forums focus on frustrations after Sandy
- LIPA COO resigns amid lawsuit, calls for investigation
- Lawsuit against LIPA to be filed Tuesday