Assemblyman Saladino Calls on LIPA to Postpone Vote on Rate Increase – Calls for Public Hearings on Issue

December 15, 2008
Dear Mr. Kevin Law and the Long Island Power Authority Board of Trustees:

As a representative of Long Island in the New York State Assembly, I respectfully request that you postpone the Thursday, December 11, 2008 vote on the proposed 4.8 percent rate increase until after the first of the year when additional public hearings can be held. A rate increase of this magnitude should be accompanied by extensive public input and expert testimony.

Long Island families are being squeezed by skyrocketing property taxes and a continuously rising cost of living. The pending rate increase will only add to their already overwhelming financial burden. It is unfair that ratepayers are being punished for using less energy upon LIPA’s urging to conserve. Now the ratepayers are being asked to offset LIPA’s loss of revenue.

I fully understand that lawmakers, businesses and families alike are forced to make tough choices during this period of economic downturn. Decisions with such devastating effects should not be made so quickly during these challenging fiscal times.

All levels of government are being asked to cut back, create more efficiency and prevent an additional burden on taxpayers. I, along with my Assembly colleagues, will do the same while working to enact a sound budget, eliminating waste and controlling spending, without resorting to new taxes or fees.

Only two weeks will pass between the first mention of the LIPA rate increase and the vote for adoption, all happening during the busy holiday season when the public’s attention is on holiday preparation and family. Two weeks is not enough time to properly analyze a proposal negatively affecting over one million customers. In addition, only two hearings were held on December 4th with not enough advanced notice and public participation.

The price of oil continues to drop, which should result in lower energy costs for consumers. The Board should prudently wait and evaluate the evolving energy market and other cost-saving measures as an alternative to a rate increase. A rate increase during this fiscal crisis will undoubtedly hurt families, businesses and the local economy. The people of our communities are clearly overburdened and cannot sustain much more. I thereby urge the Board to postpone the vote and extend the public comment period until well after the first of the year.

Assemblyman Joseph S. Saladino