Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed the LIPA Oversight Bill that will ensure better service and electricity rates for power customers on Long Island. The new law requires the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) to adhere to best-industry practices to maximize efficiency, undergo periodic audits, and increase transparency.
"This new law is an important step toward improving efficiency and transparency at LIPA to ensure ratepayers are protected," Governor Cuomo said. "LIPA's customers deserve to have their complaints addressed in a timely and effective manner, and this law will help make sure the people of Long Island are better served. I thank Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Sweeney for sponsoring this legislation."
The law requires LIPA to undergo periodic audits of internal policies and procedures to improve efficiency and transparency. The LIPA Board will be required to publicly present the findings and recommendations of the audit, allowing LIPA's decisions to be held to a more rigorous standard than those that currently exists for any other utility in the state.
To ensure that LIPA customers have a sufficient consumer advocate, the new law gives the Department of State's Division of Consumer Protection specific authority to investigate any complaints made by customers. DOS will mediate and refer such complaints to appropriate state and local agencies for further review. The Department of Public Service will oversee the audit process. The law takes effect immediately.
Senator Ken LaValle said, "This landmark legislation is a victory for LIPA ratepayers that will provide greater transparency and oversight to LIPA as well as provide Long Islanders with a vehicle to have complaints reviewed by the Consumer Protection Division of the New York State Department of State. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law."
Assemblyman Bob Sweeney said, "Under this new law, there is now for the first time meaningful oversight of LIPA. This law requires that either the DPS or an independent auditor review whether LIPA is complying with the law requiring that rates be at the lowest level consistent with sound fiscal operating practices. For the first time, LIPA ratepayers will be able to have complaints reviewed by the Consumer Protection Division of the New York State Department of State and the Division will be empowered to investigate complaints of any kind from LIPA consumers. This is a far better alternative than asking LIPA to review its own actions and I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this important bill into law."