Lawmakers unveil bill aimed at LIPA oversight

A new state proposal seeks to improve transparency and oversight of LIPA by shifting control of the utility.

State Sen. Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele introduced the measure, dubbed the Long Island Power Authority Ratepayers Protection Act.

It would require a new board to be put in place in 2019 with trustees elected from eight districts instead of being appointed by the Legislature and governor.

"We're doing this because we feel, Assemblyman Thiele and myself, that the ratepayer is being overburdened and needs to be part of the equation in creating a rate they can afford," LaValle says.

It would also require a referendum if LIPA wants to increase its debt, and the LIPA board would have full discretion to consider rate hikes.

The lawmakers say their bill would also restore the utility's oversight authority to the state comptroller and state attorney general.

Dr. Matthew Cordaro, a LIPA trustee, says he's speaking on his behalf alone, but he supports the concept of the bill. "I vote yes on the concept, but you never really know how these things shake out until you see the words and the actual implementation language associated with it," he says.

Sen. LaValle says the plan is to have the first election in December of 2018. The board members would serve two-year terms.

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