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State commission will regulate LIPA

Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation introduced by Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) and State Senator Jim Gaughran (D-Huntington) giving the Public Service Commission (PSC) greater regulation over the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA).

The legislators have been pushing for oversight of the utility company for a long time.

Under the new legislation, all service providers who contract with LIPA are now required to undergo a comprehensive and regular PSC management and operations audit at least every five years.

But under the legislation, the PSC that didn’t have authority to require that LIPA take steps to implement any recommendations now will have authority to require LIPA and its service providers to implement recommendations contained in the audit where fraud, abuse or mismanagement is found.

With millions of Long Islanders dependent on LIPA and its contractor, PSEG-LI, for energy needs, the new law will bring LIPA in line with other utilities across the state and give the PSC “the necessary authority to enforce audit recommendations and protect ratepayers from waste, fraud, and abuse,” Mr. Thiele said.

“We need not look further than PSEG-LI’s complete failure in responding to and mitigating the impacts of Tropical Storm Isaias earlier this year to recognize the necessity of this legislation,” he said, predicting PSC would now have “essential authority [to] greatly improve oversight and transparency over the utility” preventing future catastrophes stemming from negligent mismanagement.” “Utilities must be accountable to the public they serve,” Mr. Gaughran said. The new 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 [to] implement recommendations.”