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LI officials seek to halt PSEG-LIPA rate-increase proceedings

PSEG is telling its customers they will have

PSEG is telling its customers they will have to pay an additional charge in their bill next month, despite the mild weather in December and January. Credit: News 12

Long Island elected officials are asking that the PSEG-LIPA rate-increase proceedings be halted because of "constitutional and contractual" concerns, one week after a top regulator signed off on a $325.4 million increase.

The increase still awaits a final vote by the LIPA board before year's end.

In a Wednesday letter to the state Department of Public Service, the Long Island Power Authority, PSEG and the state attorney general, the officials charge there is "no true oversight" of the utility and say the LIPA board lacks "objectivity and expertise" to make the final decision on the rate case.

The letter is signed by 12 Long Island Republican state assemblymen, Nassau Comptroller George Maragos, Suffolk Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. and Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, all Republicans, and Nassau Legis. Judith Jacobs (D-Woodbury).

PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said: "The current rate proceeding was prescribed by the LIPA Reform Act as approved by the legislature in 2013. PSEG Long Island is obligated to follow this process."

The letter was sent days after the Department of Public Service issued a final recommendation on the rate proceeding allowing for a $325.4 million increase from 2016 to 2018. PSEG had sought a $387 million increase, and has a contractual right to file for arbitration to make a case for the full amount.

Like a letter sent by Long Island state senators, the latest letter comes near the end of the rate proceeding, and regulators have no obligation to follow any of its recommendations.

The letter makes reference to a recent report by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli that criticized a lack of regulatory oversight at PSEG.

"We are concerned that there is no true scrutiny of the proposed rates due to the inability of the New York Public Service Commission to formally reject or accept the proposed rates and because the LIPA trustees cannot be objective under the current arrangement," the letter states.

The officials wrote that they are "concerned that the recent augmentation of the PSEG oversight and control over the public ratepayer assets may destroy the public power ownership and not-for-profit status of LIPA."

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