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Linda  Tagliaferro

Moreland Commission Recommends Privatizing LIPA

By January 7, 2013

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The Moreland Commission on Utility Storm Preparation and Response, created in 2012 by Governor Andrew Cuomo to investigate the lack of electric power to over 2 million Long Island customers in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, has just recommended eliminating LIPA (Long Island Power Authority) because of its unacceptable inefficient response to the superstorm's severe problems. The commission suggests replacing LIPA with a private company that could purchase all of LIPA's assets and then manage the system. The commission came to this conclusion, among other reasons, because LIPA did not take measures to fulfill New York State recommendations to improve its system, making it unprepared for the ravages of the superstorm. This led to an extremely slow response to some customers who were without power for many weeks.

The report states: "The Basic Problem: The six utilities operating in NY and LIPA operate as natural monopolies in their own exclusive service areas with no risk of losing all or part of the territory because of toothless government oversight." The commission also recommends strengthening NYS oversight of all utilities and to impose increased penalties when they do not fulfill their responsibilities.

The commission's report calls LIPA's management structure "dysfunctional," and its storm preparation and response "substandard." The conclusion: "Commission found the only option for change is a complete overhaul of LIPA and how power is delivered on Long Island."

You can read some of our readers' responses to my question, What's Your Opinion of LIPA's Handling of the Electrical Outages from Superstorm Sandy? Some typical responses: "The worst utility ever," and "LIPA is a failed entity."

To visit the commission's website, please go to www.moreland.ny.gov. The full report is at http://moreland.ny.gov/sites/default/files/MorelandPresentation.pdf.

What do you think of the commission's conclusions? Please leave a comment below.

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