LI lawmakers on privatizing LIPA: Not so fast

Legislators say LIPA has cheap debt right now because it's a government agency. If it was replaced by a private utility, rates for Long Islanders

Cuomo wants to

Cuomo wants to "abolish" LIPA, but some legislators say rates for Long Islanders could spike by as much as 20 percent if a private utility swoops in. (1/10/13)

ALBANY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo drew cheers from the crowd yesterday when he said in his State of the State speech that the Long Island Power Authority should be replaced with a private company, but some lawmakers here on Long Island say such a move comes with big risks.

Legislators say LIPA has cheap debt right now because it's a government agency. If it was replaced by a private utility, rates for Long Islanders could spike 20 percent, by some estimates.

Some lawmakers suggest that the best of both worlds would be a public agency, eligible for low-interest loans, that runs as efficiently as a private company. They say the utility should be able to handle everything from the day-to-day power to major storms.

Cuomo says he'd like to see LIPA in private hands with a no-rate hike guarantee for several years, but skeptics wonder if that's possible. There could be a clearer solution in two weeks, when the governor presents his budget to the state Legislature.

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