News

Panel: LIPA As We Know It Has Got To Go

Hearing Held In Nassau On Wednesday, Another Coming In Suffolk On Thursday
Sign in front of a home in Malverne, Long Island. (credit: Samantha Mevorach)

Sign in front of a home in Malverne, Long Island. (credit: Samantha Mevorach)

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OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Following the disastrous response to Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he wants to do away with the current Long Island Power Authority and have the utility run by New Jersey’s PSE&G.

To that end, he is holding two public hearings, the first of which was Wednesday at SUNY Old Westbury.

As 1010 WINS’ Holli Haerr reported, panel at the hearing brought up LIPA’s handling of Sandy as one of the major reasons the agency needs to be overhauled.

“The storm response was despicable,” one panelist said.

State and PSE&G officials discussed Cuomo’s plan to cut down the size of LIPA, and give most of the responsibilities of the agency to PSE&G, which is set to take over on Jan. 1, 2014.

“We’ll be implementing PSE&G’s outage management technology,” a panelist said.

Some panelists feared jobs will be lost, and that LIPA’s debt will still be too high. One panelist called the debt “as radioactive as any nuclear reactor.”

LIPA customers all seem to want the same thing from an overhaul of their power utility.

“We hope the rates come down a little bit. The rates are amazing,” one customer told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs. “And better service… That’s the main thing.”

Another customer told Xirinachs that regardless of what happens, the utility needs to be more efficient.

In a statement following the meeting, LIPA officials said, “We will continue to work with government and other stakeholders to make sure highly reliable service continues to be provided to customers at the best possible value.”

The second hearing is set for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Western Suffolk BOCES Conference Center at 31 Lee Ave., in Wheatley Heights.

The governor hopes his overhaul plan will be approved by the June 20 legislative adjournment date.

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