Teachout: Pull plug on Cuomo overhaul of LIPA (Updates)

Democratic challenger Zephyr Teachout slammed one of Gov. Democratic challenger Zephyr Teachout slammed one of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's most-prized initiatives by calling for a reversal of what she claims was an unconstitutional reorganization of the Long Island Power Authority. Photo Credit: AP

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ALBANY — Democratic challenger Zephyr Teachout on Friday slammed one of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's most-prized initiatives by calling for a reversal of what she claims was an unconstitutional reorganization of the Long Island Power Authority.

"We have to undo the private control of Long Island's energy infrastructure and put control of that infrastructure in the hands of the people," she said. The charge came as part of her "whistle-blower tour" to highlight corruption and waste in state government.

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 "Long Islanders pay some of the highest electric rates in the nation. There's no reason we can't tackle two problems —  jobs and high rates — at the same time," Teachout said. "Clean, green renewable energy should be a big part of the future of the Long Island economy."

She faces Cuomo in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary.

She said LIPA needs to take operational control of the utility so it can again be monitored by the state Attorney General's Office and state Comptroller's Office to protect the people's interests.

Cuomo had created a Moreland Commission on public utilities after failings in service and recovery during and after superstorm Sandy. He followed the commission's findings which concluded that LIPA's operations should be managed through a long-term contract with PSEG, while LIPA retained ownership of the electric grid. LIPA is a state authority headed by Cuomo's appointees.

Neither Cuomo's aide nor Cuomo's campaign would comment, but referred reporters to local officials. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said he supported the governor's plan to transform the state authority.

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The state Department of Public Service has a duty to scrutinize LIPA and its contract with PSEG, but the agency doesn't have full jurisdiction over either company. It has a "review and recommend" role, and can't levy fines for nonperformance, as it can at all other state utilities.

 

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