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Sources: Cuomo to sign LIPA restructuring bill Wednesday

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to travel to Long Island on Wednesday to affix his signature to the LIPA restructuring bill he masterminded, according to two people briefed on his plans.

Cuomo is expected in Uniondale, not far from LIPA headquarters, after midday for a ceremony to sign the LIPA Reform Act, which essentially abolishes LIPA as it has functioned for the past 15 years.

Matthew Wing, a spokesman for Cuomo, didn't respond to several messages Tuesday night about the planned signing. An official schedule for Cuomo said he would be in the New York City area.

After six months of sometimes contentious debate and two spirited public meetings, the State Legislature passed the LIPA bill in the waning hours of the 2013 legislative session on June 21.

The bill turns over near-total control of the Long Island grid to Newark-based PSEG, while shrinking LIPA and its board to 20 staffers and nine trustees, respectively. LIPA trustees will still approve rates, but rate reviews and other oversight functions will be turned over to a new Long Island branch of the state Department of Public Service, which will also field consumer complaints about the utility.

Cuomo said the move was needed because LIPA failed when it was most needed to perform, most acutely after superstorm Sandy, which saw more than 1 million power outages. But critics said the move to abolish LIPA went too far and happened too quickly, and many still say LIPA should transition to a fully public power company.

A day after the bill was passed, Cuomo released a report from a Moreland Commission he empaneled showing that LIPA paid exorbitant rates for heavily used consultants. The U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn is looking into the claims.

And while LIPA already is moving to refinance some of its bonds in a securitization cleared by the legislation, not all of Wall Street was applauding the bill. Standard & Poor's Ratings Services in early July said it could cut LIPA's A- bond rating because the bill "has the potential to erode LIPA's financial metrics."

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