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N.Y. Lawmakers Approve Plan To Restructure LIPA

Legislation Includes 2-Year Rate Freeze, Communication Requirements
LIPA's Roy Bishop works on Robbins Lane in Syosset, NY - Aug 31, 2011 (credit: Mona Rivera / 1010 WINS)

LIPA in Syosset (credit: Mona Rivera / 1010 WINS)

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Superstorm Sandy

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) –  As New York lawmakers have approved Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to overhaul the Long Island Power Authority, one Nassau County official said she cannot wait for LIPA to be reshaped.

Town of Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray said anything will be better than the current utility, reported WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall.

Under the new plan, there would be a two-year rate freeze and better communication with customers during and after storms.

“We certainly know how terrible LIPA was in the aftermath of Sandy,” Murray said. “So to have a complete reorganization of that utility would be a good thing.”

The two year rate freeze is a step in the right direction, Murray said but she does have her concerns.

“I’m always concerned about the level of service provided to our rate payers and also, of course, the rates themselves,” Murray said. “We pay amongst the highest rates in the country, and we certainly want to make sure that the new iteration of LIPA, whatever that might be, provides better service and that there are real, external controls over their rates.”

LIPA has been contracting with National Grid for daily operations.

The legislation approved Thursday will require PSE&G, which provides utility service in New Jersey, to prepare and maintain an emergency response plan. Included in the legislation is a two-year rate freeze.

Cuomo said he envisions privatizing utility operations and reducing LIPA’s political patronage jobs and its role in handling the authority’s $6.7 billion debt.

“We need to do something drastic to improve the service,” Murray said.

The network would still be owned by the state authority to make sure it can still receive federal disaster aid and secure lower borrowing rates.

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