Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has appointed Matthew Cordaro, a longtime LIPA watchdog and a proponent of making the authority a fully public utility, as a LIPA trustee.
Friday, he said he was "anxious to apply my utility experience to LIPA's problems" and "do my best to protect the ratepayers and ensure the reliability of the electric system."
The appointment brings the number of LIPA trustees to 11. Four remaining vacancies are Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's to fill. Cuomo has proposed selling LIPA to a private company.
Cordaro said he will continue to back a fully public LIPA over a private utility. "No matter how you try to disguise or camouflage it, privatization will result in significantly increased costs for Long Island ratepayers," he said.
Cuomo on Thursday said he remained open to all options, but that he didn't think a fully public LIPA was "realistic."
Meanwhile, the Long Island Progressive Coalition, an activist group, Friday announced the formation of a coalition to oppose privatization. The group supports a fully public utility.
Shelly Sackstein, chairman of Action Long Island, said the business group, a founding member of the new coalition, supports the idea of a fully municipal LIPA. He said he'd also like LIPA to buy the local power plants and possibly the natural gas distribution system from National Grid.
The coalition will include environmental, business and community groups, said Lisa Tyson, executive director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.
LIPA currently operates as a public-private hybrid; National Grid, a for-profit company, operates the system and LIPA oversees budgeting, capital projects, strategic direction and other functions.
State officials led by Larry Schwartz, secretary to the governor, and financial consultants from Lazard Ltd. have begun private meetings with local leaders, starting Wednesday with the Long Island Association. Specifics of the privatization plan discussed in that meeting have been kept private. State lawmakers who met this month with Schwartz haven't gotten documentation on how privatization would work.
Matt Wing, a spokesman for Cuomo, would not provide specifics but said, "A final decision needs to be based on facts, not politics."