Asked at a news briefing whether NYPA, the nation's largest state public power provider, could have a role in managing LIPA, Cuomo quipped, "It sounds like they should," given their names, then added, "That's one of the issues we're looking at."
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The Cuomo administration last month announced it was contemplating reforms for LIPA that sought to return it to its holding company and advocacy roots. Last week, Howard Glaser, Cuomo's director of state operations and a senior policy adviser, said the administration had hired a team of people to work on reforms at LIPA.
Glaser said LIPA's new contract with grid-management company PSEG, which will take effect in January 2014, "gives us an opportunity to rethink the relationship between LIPA and its contractors."
LIPA also is said to be exploring the prospect of the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency helping manage solar energy and other renewable programs.
The prospect of LIPA working with NYPA has been discussed for years -- LIPA and the state have already commissioned studies on the topic. When former LIPA chief executive Richard Kessel moved to NYPA in 2008, there was much speculation that NYPA could run the show at LIPA, even though NYPA primarily oversees power generation and transmission, while LIPA is primarily a retail energy provider.
In an interview this summer, LIPA chief operating officer Michael Hervey said Cuomo's staff had already directed the authority to find "synergies" with other state agencies. "They are interested in having us look at our organizational structure," he said, with a directive to find "synergies with our service providers and other state agencies . . . to see what makes sense."
How soon that happens, and what LIPA becomes in the aftermath is anyone's guess. "There's no question they have considerable expertise in contracting for power supplies, operating generating and transmission facilities," said energy expert Matthew Cordaro. But "NYPA has zero capability to oversee the PSEG contract. It's very different from what they do on a day-to-day basis."