Ramos Supports Legislation to Make LIPA Accountable to Ratepayers
January 18, 2012
Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Central Islip) announced today that the Assembly has passed the Long Island Power Authority Oversight and Accountability Act (A.8957). The legislation, sponsored by Ramos, 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. “For too long LIPA has been allowed to hike rates without input from the public or have a comprehensive examination of how they determine their rates,” said Ramos. “Today we began the process of shining a light on LIPA and their decision making.” Assemblyman Ramos has fought against LIPA rate hikes in the past. 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). Over the last 10 years, LIPA rates have risen by 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 restore the public’s trust in LIPA. 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 Public Service Department and would focus on rate setting, annual operating costs, efficiency and debt service obligations. In addition, this legislation would require the auditor to hold local public hearings to allow consumers to lodge complaints about service or energy bills to the state Consumer Protection Division. “Holding LIPA accountable for their actions is a good first step, the next will be for them to provide the quality service Suffolk families deserve at an affordable price,” Ramos concluded.