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Moreland Commission: Eliminate LIPA In Wake Of Hurricane Sandy Failure

Officials: Privatizing Utility Would Have Benefits Like Cost Savings, Efficiency
An electrical crew contracted by LIPA works on overhead lines on Old Country Road in Melville - Nov. 19, 2012 (credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

An electrical crew contracted by LIPA works on overhead lines on Old Country Road in Melville – Nov. 19, 2012 (credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Unacceptable!

That’s how a state panel describes the weeks in the dark for New Yorkers, after Hurricane Sandy.

On Monday, the panel said the Long Island Power Authority needs an overhaul, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

The Moreland Commission, appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo after LIPA, Con Edison and other utilities struggled to turn the lights back on after Sandy, has heard consumer outrage and now has a proposal to do something about it.

“We all realized after the storm the real human toll the storm took,” Moreland co-chair Benjamin Lawsky said.

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The key recommendations are severe:

* Giving the state Public Service Commission the power and the teeth to revoke the license of any utility that flunks performance

* Increasing fines on utilities up to $2 million per day based on size

* Returning the fines to the rate payer

* Harshest of all, privatizing LIPA, which officials found to be completely and totally dysfunctional.

“It is still, governor, using a computer system that is from the early 1980s,” Lawsky said.

Officials said that privatizing LIPA would have a number of benefits, including efficiency and cost savings.

“Many of our friends and family members, neighbors went without light and without heat for weeks. LIPA could not get there, could not get its act together,” commission member Rev. Floyd Flake said.

“LIPA is a mess and desperately needs to be cleaned up,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.

Cuomo reminded the commission that there are some limits on what can be done.

“Right now, you’re not going to design a system that is going to prevent power outages,” Cuomo said.

But the state can make the response a whole lot better. He said step one is to make the utilities realize they don’t have a lifetime monopoly.

“There has to be a possibility that you can revoke the franchise without going to court for 20 years. If you are not providing the service we will revoke the franchise, period,” Cuomo said.

Sources said that the governor will adopt many of the recommendations made by the commission in his annual state of the state speech on Wednesday. He is also expected to lay out an agenda for strengthening gun control and for not increasing state taxes and fees.

For more information, visit www.moreland.ny.gov.

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