On Wednesday, December 23, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed into law new legislation that gives the Public Service Commission (PSC) greater regulatory oversight of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and its subcontractors.
The PSC has regulatory authority over LIPA. However, it does not have the authority to require that LIPA take steps to implement any of the PSC’s recommendations as it does with every other utility in New York State. Under this amendment to the Public Authorities Law, proposed by Assemblyman Fred Thiele and Senator James Gaughran, the PSC will now have the authority to require LIPA and its service providers to implement recommendations made in any comprehensive and regular management and operations audit where fraud, abuse, or mismanagement is found.
In November, after the legislation was passed by both the NY Assembly and the NY Senate and sent to the Governor for signature, Councilman John Bouvier proposed a memorializing resolution in the support of the legislation. The resolution was approved unanimously by the Southampton Town Board. Following Southampton’s lead, Brookhaven, East Hampton and Riverhead passed similar supporting resolutions.
In addition, a letter of support, circulated by Lynn Arthur, chair of the Energy Subcommittee of Southampton Town’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, was signed by over 350 Southampton residents and sent to the Governor’s office.
In a press release issued following the Governor’s signing of the legislation, Assemblyman Thiele stated, “Millions of customers across Long Island depend on LIPA to meet their energy needs. The new law will bring LIPA in line with other utilities across the state and rightfully give the PSC the necessary authority to enforce audit recommendations and protect ratepayers from waste, fraud, and abuse.”
In the same press release, Senator Gaughran stated, “Utilities must be accountable to the public they serve, and I am thrilled this critical consumer protection legislation has been signed into law. This law will prevent rogue utilities like PSEG and National Grid from doctoring state mandated audits, and will ensure the Public Service Commission has the authority to require LIPA and its service providers implement recommendations.”
“This is critical legislation in the Town’s ongoing support for efforts to level the playing field for Long Island energy consumers,” said Councilman Bouvier. “The additional backing for the legislation from neighboring municipalities and the members of our community underscores the importance of this legislation to our region. I want to thank them for their support.”