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Thiele, LaValle bills seek to return LIPA control to ratepayers

COURTESY PHOTO Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr.

Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr.

Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) and Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) have introduced the Long Island Power Authority Ratepayers Protection Act in an effort to restore transparency, oversight and local control over the electric utility.

The bills, separately introduced in the State Assembly and Senate aim to:
• Replace the existing appointed board by January 1, 2019, with a nine-member board. The chairman would be appointed by the governor, while eight trustees elected by voters from districts on Long Island, Queens and the Rockaways of equal population.

• Provide the new board with full discretion to consider rate increases, including consideration of the economic impact on ratepayers and the region determined from public hearings. The existing board has limited discretion.

• Remove any state preemption from the establishment of municipal power companies on Long Island pursuant to the General Municipal Law.

• Require a public referendum on the issuance of debt by the Long Island Power Authority, making the utility company responsive to the interests of Long Islanders, not Albany.

• Restore the oversight authority of the state comptroller and attorney general over contract matters.

• Remove the prohibition on LIPA from applying and accepting preference hydroelectricity from the New York State Power Authority.

• Empower the Department of Public Service-LI to approve rate requests, not merely make recommendations.

• Preclude the Department of Public Service and LIPA from approving a rate increase to offset revenue losses due to consumer energy conservation efforts.