A Push For PSC ‘On Steroids’
The Moreland Commission created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo today provided an update on their efforts to overhaul the state’s major utility regulator, the Public Service Commission, in the wake of the much-criticized response time from the Long Island Power Authority in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
The overarching goal: develop a strategy to decertify the most recalcirtant utilities that do not respond well to disasters or other times of crisis.
A meeting in the the governor’s ceremonial Red Room office, Moreland Commission co-chairman Robert Abrams, a former state attorney general, and Department of Financial Services Superintendent Ben Lawsky called for a “PSC on steroids” that would include increased oversight of utilities statewide of their disaster plans, higher penalties for non-compliance and a lower threshold for holding the utilities accountable.
Cuomo had convened the Moreland Act Commission late last year after the storm left millions without power and took weeks in some cases to bring power back to customers in hard-hit areas of the state.
In order to create a regulator and oversight agency with more strength, the commission says fines as high as $2 million a day for non-compliance of returning power to an area need to be considered. Additionally, the state would have broader powers in levying the fines without having to prove that the utility “knowingly” violated regulations.
The Long Island Power Authority, a state-run entity, was singled out for its handling of state preparation and response as being especially substandard.
The governor, whose father led the state when LIPA was first created, called it “flawed from its conception.”
The state is considering two, radically different proposals for the authority: either privatize LIPA outright or assume a greater amount of state control.
Problematic for both solutions — referred to as a “restructuring” of LIPA — would be the heavy debt load incurred over the years.
Lawsky indicated that a plan would have to be worked out in order to complete an overhaul.
“I think there would be a number of different options” which would include securitization and refinancing of the debt, he said, though no specific plan as been developed.
Though the commission was created in the wake of Sandy, Cuomo says he wants it to have a statewide bent.
“We’re focusing on downstate now only because that was the most recent event.. it’s not a downstate exercise and that’s important,” Cuomo said.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on January 7, 2013 at 1:30 pm, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|