Assembly Passes Long Island Power Authority Oversight and Accountability Act
January 18, 2012
Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) announced today that the Assembly has passed the Long Island Power Authority Oversight and Accountability Act (A.8957). The legislation, sponsored by Weisenberg, will address the Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) out-of-control spending and questionable business practices by requiring the public authority to undergo comprehensive and operational audits. “LIPA has exploited legal loopholes for years to avoid the scrutiny of the Public Service Commission. This has resulted in Nassau County paying some of the highest energy rates in the country,” said Weisenberg. “By shining a light on the authority’s operations, we can hold them accountable and enable ratepayers to see where their hard-earned money is going.” Since 2001, the authority’s rates have jumped more than 34 percent. This legislation would protect ratepayers and improve service by ensuring that Long Island consumers pay the lowest rates possible in accordance with standards set forth by the state. These audits, which would begin immediately and be repeated at least every five years, would maximize the organizational efficiencies in an effort to rectify this unacceptable situation. In recent years, LIPA has come under fire for over-billing and over-collecting hundreds of millions of dollars on energy bills. The audits mandated by this legislation would be conducted by the New York State Public Service Department and would focus on rate setting, annual operating costs, efficiency and debt service obligations. Additionally, the auditor would hold local public hearings and consumers would be allowed to lodge complaints about service or bills to the state Consumer Protection Division. “Ratepayers should not have to worry about whether or not they are being overcharged by LIPA,” said Assemblyman Weisenberg. “By conducting these audits and seeking public input, hardworking local families would get long-overdue relief from rate hikes and a say in how their dollars are spent.” Assemblyman Weisenberg has a history of fighting LIPA rate hikes. Just last year, he sponsored legislation to close the loophole used by LIPA to raise rates by more than 2.5 percent over a 12-month period (A.3614).